Women’s soccer seeks to continue perfect record in matchup against LMU

Women’s soccer seeks to continue perfect record in matchup against LMU

The undefeated Bruins are gearing up for a battle against the winless Lions.

No. 4 UCLA women’s soccer (3-0) will put its unblemished record to the test against Loyola Marymount (0-5) at Sullivan Field on Sunday afternoon in a matchup between two teams that have begun their respective seasons in opposite manners. The Lions have lost 12 straight games dating back to last season.

While LMU is coming off its third consecutive losing season, coach Amanda Cromwell said she isn’t downplaying the matchup.

“Every game we play is going to prepare us,” Cromwell said. “Every opponent gives us a different look and different challenges, so we’re looking forward to Sunday’s game to help us get better and hopefully get a good result.”

The Bruins tout an undefeated record against the Lions in eight previous matchups, including five wins at Sullivan Field. But Sunday’s duel will be the first time UCLA goes head-to-head against LMU coach Jenny Bindon.

Bindon spent three years gracing the sidelines at Wallis Annenberg Stadium as an assistant coach for the Bruins between 2017 and 2019 before accepting the head coaching gig with the Lions following UCLA’s College Cup loss to Stanford.

Although there might be a level of familiarity between the teams and their respective coaching staffs, graduate student midfielder Marley Canales said that happens naturally throughout the season anyway.

“The more that we play, the more that we get scouted,” Canales said. “People are going to know our style of play and what our game plan is, and that’s fine because obviously, we’re very deep, and we’re going to have a lot of different scoring options.”

The Bruins opened their season scoring three goals in back-to-back games – including a total of four first-half goals – but needed nearly 80 minutes to find the back of the net in their latest victory over Long Beach State on Sunday.

Canales said UCLA is still adjusting its offensive attack to find success against defensive-minded teams.

“Our team is going to have to continue to learn how to exploit teams that do try to sit in and try to set a lot of numbers behind the ball,” Canales said. “That’s been something that we are going to continue to look at and see how we can play against that, continue to put balls in the back of the net.”

Despite scoring just one goal against the Beach, the Bruins had 16 shot attempts, equaling their average number of shots per game entering the contest.

“We had quite a few opportunities,” Cromwell said. “It’s not always about the final score. It’s more about what we’re creating. I thought we were very creative, and we’ll look to do that again against LMU.”

Four of UCLA’s 16 shots in its most recent game came off the foot of redshirt sophomore forward Sunshine Fontes. After garnering Pac-12 All-Freshman honors a season ago with five goals in 17 games, Fontes has registered more than 30 minutes off the bench in each of the Bruins’ games thus far.

Against Long Beach State, Fontes created four scoring opportunities in fewer than 10 minutes in the second half, with her final shot of the contest coming 49 seconds before junior forward Mia Fishel scored the game-winning goal for UCLA.

Fontes – who ranks first on the team in minutes out of all players who have yet to make a start – said she finds comfort in playing off the bench.

“Coming in off the bench, I have more of an advantage just because I get to see how their defense is playing and where I can find pockets and find the ball,” Fontes said. “I really like being able to watch the game happen and then go in knowing what I need to do.”

Canales said the Bruins’ first three games have given the team a great opportunity to learn about themselves and experiment with different formations, while Fontes added that UCLA’s depth has been on full display.

“We have a deep roster and no matter who we sub on, it’s not going to change the flow of the game – we’re all still going to be on the same page,” Fontes said. “Not too many teams have the depth that we have. If we use that to our advantage, we’re going to have a great season.”

The Bruins and Lions are slated to square off Sunday at 1 p.m.

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