Early lead fuels UCLA women’s soccer to season-opening win over UC Irvine

Early lead fuels UCLA women’s soccer to season-opening win over UC Irvine

The Bruins began their new campaign with an attacking approach from the opening kick off.

No. 5 UCLA women’s soccer (1-0) defeated UC Irvine (0-1) by a score of 3-1 in the first match of the season Thursday night. Three goals within the first 19 minutes of the match showed the Bruins dismantle the Anteaters’ defensive structure, causing adjustments that would affect the rest of the contest.

During the third minute, as both teams were still finding their surroundings of the match, sophomore forward Kaila Novak made space near the corner flag, passed to redshirt junior midfielder Madelyn Desiano, who floated a cross into the box and found junior defender Brianne Riley. Riley volleyed the ball to senior midfielder Maricarmen Reyes, who powered it home into the goal to put the Bruins up 1-0.

The offensive nature shown by the Bruins on the pitch was hard to control for the Anteater back line, especially early on.

At the 15-minute mark, Desiano sent a cross towards the Anteaters’ goalkeeper, who tried and failed to clear the ball. The clearance did not go far enough as sophomore forward and reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Reilyn Turner struck the ball through the net as the acrobatic effort sent her to the ground.

Two goals would have been enough for the Bruins to secure the win, but a third one came not too long afterward.

During the 19th minute, passing action between Turner and junior forward Mia Fishel led to an attempt from the latter that hit the crossbar and deflected back into the box. Fishel wound up collecting her own effort and deposited it back into the net.

Fishel announced Wednesday that this would be her final season with the Bruins, expressing her interest in playing professionally and for the United States Women’s National Team.

The Bruins were scoreless in the second half and conceded a consolation goal to the Anteaters in the 89th minute, while redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Mitchell was between the sticks. Mitchell and senior goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy played one half each, combining for three saves against a timid Anteater attack.

Mitchell made a shutout preserving play in the 82nd minute, even if the clean sheet went out the door soon after. Going to collect a ball in front of the box, a deflection pushed the ball to an Irvine forward. The ball was flicked at the open goal, but Mitchell ran full force towards the net and dove, saving the tricky shot from crossing the goal line.

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