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Women's Soccer Opens Season Sunday at Pepperdine

Feb 6, 2021
Marley Canales

Information Guide | Game Notes (PDF)

No. 4 UCLA (18-5-1 in 2019) at No. 25 Pepperdine (11-6-3)
Date/Time: Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 – 1 p.m. (PT)
Location: Malibu, Calif. (Tari Frahm Rokus Field)
Broadcast: WCC Network (
Live Stats:

No. 4 UCLA will begin its 28th season on Sunday, Feb. 7 with the 2020-21 season opener at Pepperdine in Malibu. The match will be broadcast live on WCC Network ( at 1:00 p.m. PT. In accordance with state and county regulations, fans are not permitted to attend games. With the Pac-12 not playing in the fall season due to the global pandemic, UCLA will have waited 429 days between games.

UCLA is 20-6-1 all-time in season openers and has won nine of the last 10. The Bruins won last season's opener against Iowa State, 3-0, with Ashley Sanchez, Rachel Lowe and Mia Fishel scoring for UCLA. This is UCLA's first season opener on the road since 2016 when the Bruins beat San Diego State in San Diego, 5-0.

The Bruins were supposed to open the season at home on Feb. 4 against San Diego, but the game was cancelled due to the Toreros not meeting the minimum player standards. The UCLA-San Diego game was moved to an open date in the non-conference schedule, Feb. 16, at 2pm.

Pepperdine returns eight starters and 16 letterwinners from a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament and finished with an 11-6-3 record. Returning players accounted for 81% of the 2019 goals (29/36) and 78% of the assists (25/32). The entire starting defensive backline that produced 10 shutouts in 2019 returns, as does both goalies who started that season. The Waves are led by midfielder Joelle Anderson, who was selected in the third round of the NWSL college draft and is on the Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Anderson has totaled 21 goals (eight game-winners), 13 assists and 55 points in her career.

UCLA enters its season ranked No. 4 in the nation in the Top Drawer Soccer poll. The Bruins were picked No. 2 in the Pac-12 preseason poll, earning four first-place votes. UCLA has games scheduled against four teams ranked in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25 - No. 3 Stanford, No. 10 BYU, No. 14 USC and No. 16 California.

UCLA seniors Lucy Parker and Viviana Villacorta have been selected to the MAC Hermann Trophy Women's Watch List for 2020-21. The MAC Hermann Trophy, presented by World Wide Technology, is the most prestigious individual award in college soccer and is presented annually to the most outstanding male and female players of the year. Parker picks up her second consecutive Watch List nod. In 2019, her first year at UCLA, she earned All-Pac-12 honors and was twice named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. She led the team in minutes played with 2,055 out of 2,180 minutes and also scored four goals to rank fourth on the team. Villacorta has played in every game of her UCLA career, making 60 starts in 71 appearances and totaling seven goals and 16 assists. In 2019, she scored three goals with a career-high eight assists and ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 14 points.

Four Bruins were selected by Top Drawer Soccer to its preseason Top 100 Players to Watch list, including three in the Top 25. Topping the list for the Bruins is sophomore forward Mia Fishel, who checked in at No. 7 overall. Senior midfielder Viviana Villacorta ranks No. 14. Senior defender Lucy Parker is No. 25, and senior midfielder Delanie Sheehan ranks No. 46.

Fishel was named to TDS's Preseason Best XI first-team, while Villacorta earned second-team honors and Parker third-team acclaim. Additionally, Reilyn Turner was selected to the Freshman Best XI.

Three UCLA women's soccer players were selected in the 2021 NWSL College Draft – midfielder Viviana Villacorta, defender Lucy Parker, and midfielder Delanie Sheehan. Villacorta was selected No. 9 overall by the Orlando Pride. Parker was picked by Kansas City in the second round with the No. 16 selection, and Sheehan was selected by Sky Blue FC in the fourth round with the No. 33 pick. Additionally, defender Karina Rodriguez was picked up as a discovery selection by the Washington Spirit. All four players will finish their senior season with UCLA in the spring before joining their pro teams.

The Bruins return six starters from last year's squad that advanced to the College Cup - defenders Karina Rodriguez and Lucy Parker; midfielders Viviana Villacorta, Delanie Sheehan and Marley Canales; and forward Mia Fishel. Other returning players who played significant minutes include goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, forward Kennedy Faulknor, midfielder Maricarmen Reyes, and defender Brianne Riley. The Bruins also get back the services of two seniors who were injured most of 2019 - midfielder Olivia Athens and defender Jacey Pederson - and redshirt freshman Sunshine Fontes.

UCLA brings in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, the second consecutive Top 2 class for the Bruins. Among the 14 players signed were U.S. Youth National Team members Aislynn Crowder, Isabel Loza, Jillian Martinez, Michaela Rosenbaum, Dasia Torbert, Reilyn Turner and MacKenzee Vance, and Canadian Youth National Team player Kaila Novak. Two international freshmen are also in the signing class, but due to current immigration regulations are not able to enter the country. Norway's My Haugland Sørsdahl is currently enrolled and taking classes remotely, and Sweden's Clara Härdling has deferred enrollment.

Also new to the program is goalkeeper coach Saskia Webber, a member of U.S. Soccer's legendary 1999 World Cup championship team and teammates with Bruin head coach Amanda Cromwell on the 1995 World Cup squad and 1996 Olympic team. A member of the USWNT for eight years, Webber was a founding member of the Women's United Soccer Association, playing for the Philadelphia Charge in 2001 and for the New York Power in 2002. Additionally, she played professionally for three years in Japan for Oki FC, where she was named the top goalkeeper of the league.

Sophomore Mia Fishel and junior Maricarmen Reyes recently earned their first call-up with their full national team for training camps. Fishel attended a 10-day training camp in Colorado with the U.S. Women's National Team in October. Reyes received her first invitation to Mexico's National Team camp in January. Both players have extensive Youth National Team experience, with Fishel winning the Golden Ball at the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Championships and the 2016 Concacaf U-15 Championships, and Reyes starting for Mexico in the 2018 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

UCLA advanced to the NCAA College Cup for the 11th time in school history and second time in the last three years. The Bruins earned their way to the semifinals after plowing through their opponents in the first four rounds, outscoring their foes 15-1 and posting three-straight shutouts, including a thorough 4-0 defeat of defending champion and top-seeded Florida State in the quarterfinals. After falling to eventual national champion Stanford in the semifinal to snap a nine-game winning streak, the Bruins finished the year with an 18-5-1 record. Freshman Mia Fishel led the team in scoring with 14 goals scored, and junior Ashley Sanchez set a new school record with 42 career assists after recording her second-straight season with a school single-season record of 15 assists.

The Bruins were honored with the United Soccer Coaches College Team Academic Award for the ninth consecutive year, including every year during head coach Amanda Cromwell's tenure. At 3.29, the team improved its year-over-year GPA by over a quarter-point (2018-19: 3.03).

UCLA women's soccer leads all collegiate soccer teams, men or women, in Instagram followers, boasting 71.1k followers. The Bruins are also in the Top 4 in NCAA women's soccer in Twitter followers with 19.5k. Follow UCLAWomen's Soccer at @UCLAWSoccer on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok and /UCLAWSoccer on Facebook.

UCLA alumnae are making big moves in the professional ranks, with a trio of Bruins (Abby Dahlkemper, Jessie Fleming and 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Sam Mewis) in the Football Association Women's Super League (FA WSL) in England, two (Teagan Micah and Rachel Lowe) playing in the W-League in Australia and over a dozen on NWSL teams. Megan Oyster helped Houston Dash win the the NWSL Challenge Cup this past summer.

UCLA and U.S. National Team legend Lauren Holiday was selected for induction into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2020. The class is a star-studded one, including fellow Olympic medalists Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook (men's basketball), Mike Powell (track & field), Tasha Schwikert (gymnastics) and Adam Wright (men's water polo). Holiday remains the Bruins' all-time leading scorer with 71 goals and 173 points. She also holds the school record for career game-winning goals (28) and set single-season records in 2007 for points (57), goals (23) and game-winning goals (9). UCLA's only four-time first-team NSCAA All-American, Holiday was UCLA's first-ever finalist for both the MAC Hermann Trophy and Honda Award in 2007, and she was named the National Player of the Year that year by Soccer America, Soccer Buzz and Top Drawer Soccer. Holiday's teams went a combined 84-10-5 and went to the College Cup every year during her four years at UCLA. A star for the U.S. Women's National Team, Cheney won Olympic gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and scored the game-winning goal at the 2015 Women's World Cup championship match. Professionally, in 2013, she won the NWSL MVP and Golden Boot awards and was MVP of the 2014 NWSL Championship match.