Crosstown Showdown Returns Thursday
No. 3 UCLA (8-0, 5-0) vs. No. 12 USC (3-3-0, 2-3-0)
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar. 18, 2021 – 7 p.m. PT
Location: Los Angeles, Calif. (Wallis Annenberg Stadium)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Anne Marie Anderson, Tammy Blackburn
Live Stats: uclalivestats.com
No. 3 UCLA (8-0, 5-0 in the Pac-12) hosts No. 12 USC (3-3, 2-3) in a non-conference matchup at Wallis Annenberg Stadium on Thursday, Mar. 16 at 7pm PT. The game will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks, with Anne Marie Anderson and Tammy Blackburn on the call.
Due to local and state health guidelines, Thursday's game, along with all UCLA Athletics competitions, will be hosted in a spectator-free environment. For updates regarding in-person attendance at UCLA Athletics events, please check UCLABruins.com.
BRUINS REMAIN PERFECT
UCLA's perfect start to the season continued last weekend after a pair of shutout wins at Colorado and Utah. The Bruins earned a 1-0 victory at Colorado on Friday after an early goal by Delanie Sheehan held up. On Sunday, freshman Reilyn Turner scored a pair of goals in a 2-0 win at Utah. Goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy earned both shutouts and has a Pac-12-leading five on the season.
BEST START IN 20 YEARS
With eight consecutive victories to begin the season, UCLA is off to its best start in 20 years. The 2001 squad won its first 11 games of the year
Senior Karina Rodriguez earned her third career Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award after playing the full 90 minutes in each of UCLA's shutout wins on the road at Colorado and Utah. The Bruins' defensive leader in both games, she helped limit the Buffaloes to just two shots on goal and the Utes to three. Rodriguez is the third different Bruin defender to win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award, joining Lucy Parker and Jacey Pederson.
Freshman Reilyn Turner has made a big impression early on in her collegiate career, leading the team in scoring with 10 points and tying for the team lead in goals (four) and game-winning-goals (two). Turner had a brace in UCLA's last game at Utah, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory. Named to Top Drawer Soccer's Freshman Best XI, Turner brings a great deal of U.S. Youth National Team experience, playing with the U.S. U-19s in 2020 and with the U-17s at the 2018 CONCACAF Championship, where she scored two goals, including the game-winner against Canada to send the team to the semifinals.
TIME TO SHINE
Redshirt freshman Sunshine Fontes has been a ray of light for the Bruins this season, scoring a team-high-tying four goals in just 330 minutes played. She recorded her first multi-goal game as a Bruin against Oregon, scoring two impressive goals, including the game-winner. Fontes also scored the game-winner against BYU in the home opener. Fontes, who was the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. Under-17 National Team with 24 goals, tore her ACL in 2019 at the end of her high school season and missed the entire 2019 season. She made her UCLA debut in the 2020-21 season opener, playing 22 minutes at Pepperdine. She has gradually increased her minutes played and logged a season-high 59 minutes while earning her first start against Oregon State.
Sophomore forward Mia Fishel has picked up where she left off last season when she led the team with 14 goals scored, including six goals in her last six games. Fishel is tied for the team lead in goals scored with four and is tied for second in points with nine. She already has 18 goals and eight game-winning goals in a little over one season and needs just two more game-winners to move into UCLA's Top 10 list for career game-winning goals. Fishel earned her first call-up with the U.S. Women's National Team in October and was the Golden Ball winner at the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Championships after scoring a U.S. record 13 goals in the tournament.
CANALES CAN DO ALL
Senior midfielder Marley Canales has had a hand in a third of UCLA's goals this season, tallying two goals and a team-high four assists. She has two penalty kick goals, scoring the game-winner in overtime against Oregon State and the game-tying goal against BYU (she is 5-for-5 in her career on PKs; additionally, she hit the deciding PK in the 2017 NCAA semifinals). In the season opener at Pepperdine, her first game back since tearing her ACL in October 2019, Canales recorded three assists in the 3-0 victory. Three of her four assists this season have come off set pieces - two corner kicks and a free kick.
After missing three games while on Mexican National Team duty, senior defender Karina Rodriguez made a welcomed return to the pitch against Oregon State on Mar. 7, playing 65 minutes and taking three shots. She played the full 90 in both road games last weekend and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Rodriguez started UCLA's first two games before being called up for a pair of games against Costa Rica. She started in the second game on Feb. 23 and helped Mexico record a shutout in a 0-0 tie.
BRZYKCY IS LEADER OF THE PAC
Named the Pac-12's Goalkeeper of the Week in each of the first two weeks of the season, redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy is leading the conference in shutouts (five), goals against average (0.37) and save percentage (0.897). She also ranks 11th nationally in shutouts. Brzykcy, who played behind four-year starter Teagan Micah for three seasons, is now 16-3-0 in her career with nine shutouts and a career goals against average of 0.67.
ACL GANG COMING BACK STRONG
Nearly half of UCLA's 18 goals this season have come from players coming back from ACL injuries. Jacey Pederson was the first of the ACL gang to score. Before starting against Pepperdine in the season opener, the fifth-year senior had not played since Nov. 2, 2018, and she made a big impact in her return, scoring her first collegiate goal. Marley Canales tore her ACL on Oct. 13, 2019 and came back with a three-assist game in the season opener and has two goals this year. Redshirt freshman Sunshine Fontes suffered a torn ACL at the end of her high school season in 2019 and came back to score her first collegiate goal in just her second game as a Bruin, the game-winner against BYU. She is tied for the team lead in goals scored with four after her two-goal performance against Oregon. Additionally, an eighth goal was scored by another player coming off a major injury. Olivia Athens suffered a leg fracture in September 2019 and missed the remainder of the year. She scored her first goal since November 2018 in UCLA's 3-0 win vs. San Diego.
Nine Bruins made their collegiate debuts in the first three games, with three freshmen getting at least four starts. Michaela Rosenbaum has started in the last seven games, Reilyn Turner has six starts, and Megan Edelman has four. All three have played in each game, along with redshirt freshman Sunshine Fontes. Kaila Novak has started three games and has played in seven games overall. Aislynn Crowder has played in five games, and Madelyn Desiano, who missed the last two seasons with ACL injuries, and true freshman Jillian Martinez have played in four games each, while Isabel Loza has played in two.
Senior Karina Rodriguez is the latest Bruin to earn a call-up with the fulll national team, earning her first cap with Mexico on Feb. 23, starting in a 0-0 tie against Costa Rica. Maricarmen Reyes earned her first invitation to Mexico's National Team camp in January, and Mia Fishel attended a 10-day training camp with the U.S. Women's National Team in October. All three players have extensive Youth National Team experience. Rodriguez played for the U.S. at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship and 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup. Reyes started for Mexico in the 2018 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and Fishel won the Golden Ball at the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Championships and the 2016 Concacaf U-15 Championships.
SCOUTING THE TROJANS
USC is coming off two-straight losses, losing 2-0 at Utah on Friday and 3-2 in double overtime at Colorado on Monday after a one-day snow delay. The Trojans rank 12th nationally in the Top Drawer Soccer poll and are unranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll. Penelope Hocking (4 goals) and Tara McKeon (3 goals) lead USC in scoring this season, as they did last season. Hocking ranked second in the Pac-12 in 2019 with 18 goals, and McKeon ranked fourth with 15 goals.