The Wisconsin women’s soccer team (5-5-1 Big Ten, 12-8-1 overall) traveled to Los Angeles to meet a familiar foe Saturday night in a first-round NCAA tournament matchup. The Badgers fell to a then-No. 2 UCLA (8-2-1 Pac-12, 16-2-2 overall) August 31 but looked to avenge their early season loss with an upset over a talented Bruins team.
After winning five of their last six regular-season games and dropping a tightly fought game to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, the Badgers were confident they would be able to hang with a heavily favored Bruins team. Wisconsin took the pitch against No. 3-seeded UCLA with a lay-it-all-on-the-line mindset knowing they had nothing to lose and would have to take risks in order to extend their season.
A physical start to the game led to an aggressive offensive attack early on from the Bruins, who opened the scoring in the 15th minute when sophomore midfielder Caprice Dydasco sent a floater from the corner that freshman forward Taylor Smith headed to the near post out of reach of Wisconsin junior goalkeeper Genevieve Richard. Despite an early let down and a lackluster offensive performance, the Badgers held the Bruins to one goal in the first half.
Entering the second 45 minutes of play, trailing a UCLA team who had only surrendered seven second-half goals all season, Wisconsin looked to come out with more energy and aggression than it had displayed in the first half.
The Badgers’ first corner kick of the match came three minutes into the second half, providing the offensive pressure Wisconsin needed to put on the Bruins. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the kick was unsuccessful, as were two others that they took in the final 45 minutes of play. UCLA’s early tally proved to be enough to survive Wisconsin’s late-game desperation, ending the Badgers’ attempt to move on in the tournament.
A disappointing end to a successful season might be blamed on the Badgers’ inability to record any shots on goal in the match while surrendering a whopping 18 shots—five of which made it on goal—to the Bruins. Richard made a few difficult saves late in the game to give UW an opportunity to create late-game heroics, but UCLA’s defense continued to prove that the team is a legitimate contender to win the national title.
Wisconsin reached the NCAA tournament for the third time in the past four years and tallied 12 wins for the 17th time in the team’s 32-year history. The Badgers graduate seven seniors from this season’s roster and will look to build on this season’s successes with a deeper run in next year’s NCAA tournament.