Women's Soccer Opens 2021 Season Thursday
No. 5 UCLA (13-1-3 in 2020) vs. UC Irvine (4-12-2 in 2019)
Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 – 6 p.m. PT
Los Angeles, Calif. (Wallis Annenberg Stadium)
Broadcast: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Nick Koop
Live Stats: uclalivestats.com
No. 5 UCLA (13-1-3 in 2020) at Cal State Fullerton (14-3-4 in 2019)
Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021 – 5 p.m. PT
Fullerton, Calif. (Titan Stadium)
Live Stats: fullertontitans.com
Tickets: Free Admission (Register for tickets at fullertontitans.com)
UCLA BEGINS 29TH SEASON
No. 5 UCLA will begin its 29th season on Thursday, Aug. 19 with the 2021 season opener against UC Irvine at Wallis Annenberg Stadium. The match will be broadcast live at 5 pm PT on Pac-12 Networks. The Bruins will play again on Sunday, Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton, taking on the 2019 NCAA participants at Titan Stadium at 5pm. Admission to Sunday's match is free as one of Cal State Fullerton's Welcome Back Games.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT
UC Irvine will play its first official game since Nov. 3, 2019, a 655-day layoff after the Big West canceled fall sports in 2020. When it opens its season against San Diego on Aug. 19, Cal State Fullerton will have played its first official game since Nov. 16, 2019, a 642-day layoff. On the flip side, UCLA returns for its first official game in just 106 days, having concluded the 2020-21 spring season on May 5.
UCLA IN SEASON OPENERS
UCLA is 21-6-1 all-time in season openers and has won 10 of the last 11. The Bruins won last season's opener against Pepperdine, 3-0, with Marley Canales assisting on all three goals. Reilyn Turner recorded a goal and an assist, and Mia Fishel and Jacey Pederson each scored a goal. Lauren Brzykcy recorded seven saves in the shutout victory.
LAST TIME OUT
UCLA won its exhibition contest against Pepperdine on Aug. 12, 1-0, on a Reilyn Turner first half goal. Lauren Brzykcy, Hannah Mitchell and Idalia Serrano combined on the shutout. The teams played an additional 30 minutes of play, with freshman Emma Egizii scoring the only goal of the bonus period in the third minute and Kelly McManus and Faith Nguyen holding the Waves scoreless.
SCOUTING THE ANTEATERS
UC Irvine won its 2021 exhibition opener at St. Mary's, 1-0, on a 34th minute goal by junior Alyssa Moore. The Anteaters were picked to finish third in the Big West after going 3-0-2 with three shutouts during their spring season. In their last full season, UC Irvine went 4-12-2 overall but 3-3-2 in conference play. Leading scorer Scarlett Camberos (4g, 3a in 2019) returns for her junior season.
SCOUTING THE TITANS
Cal State Fullerton is the reigning Big West champion, having won both the 2019 regular season and the conference tournament. The Titans set a school record with a 16-match unbeaten streak heading into the NCAA Tournament but fell in the first round to USC. The two teams met again in an exhibition matchup last Thursday, with USC again prevailing, 2-1. Senior Haley Brown (7g, 9a in 2019) is the top returning scorer for the Titans, who were picked to finish second in the Big West.
UCLA enters the season ranked No. 5 in both the United Soccer Coaches poll and the Top Drawer Soccer rankings. The Bruins were also picked to win the Pac-12 in a vote of the conference coaches, receiving seven first-place votes.
A trio of fifth-year players - graduate students Olivia Athens and Marley Canales and fifth-year senior Kennedy Faulknor - will bring veteran leadership to the Bruins in 2021. Athens is enrolled in UCLA's Master of Legal Studies program, Canales is enrolled in UCLA's Graduate School of Education, pursuing a master's degree in transformative coaching and leadership, and Faulknor is wrapping up her sociology degree. The three of them have played a combined 180 games for the Bruins.
UCLA returns its top four leading scorers in Reilyn Turner (11g, 5a, 27pts), Mia Fishel (6g, 6a, 18pts), Marley Canales (4g, 6a, 14pts) and Sunshine Fontes (5g, 3a, 13pts). The foursome combined to score 72% of UCLA's goals in 2020 (26 of 36). Overall, UCLA returns 83% of its goal production and 81% of its points production. Goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, who played every minute of every game, is also back after her All-American season. Eight players who started at least 11 of UCLA's 17 games last season are back - 17-game starters Brzykcy, Canales and Brianne Riley; 16-game starters Fishel and Olivia Athens; 15-game starter Turner; 14-game starter Michaela Rosenbaum; and 11-game starter Kaila Novak.
WHAT'S NEW, BRU?
While returning 29 players from last season's roster, the Bruins will look to replace starters Delanie Sheehan, Lucy Parker, Karina Rodriguez and Jacey Pederson. To do so, UCLA brought in the nation's No. 6-ranked recruiting class, led by a trio of U.S. Youth National Team players in defender Lilly Reale, midfielder Emma Egizii and defender Quincy McMahon and a pair of youth internationals in defenders Clara Härdling and My Haugland Sørsdahl. Also joining the squad this season are goalkeeper Faith Nguyen, defender Jayden Perry and forward Lexi Wright.
DEFENDING THE PAC
The Bruins enter 2021 as the reigning Pac-12 champions after winning the 2020 crown with a 9-1-1 record in league play. The conference title was UCLA's 12th overall and first since 2014. UCLA returns four all-conference players in Goalkeeper of the Year Lauren Brzykcy, Freshman of the Year Reilyn Turner, first-team honoree Mia Fishel and second-team selection Marley Canales, along with All-Freshman team members Sunshine Fontes and Kaila Novak. Additionally, head coach Amanda Cromwell received her second Pac-12 Coach of the Year award.
REPRESENTING THEIR COUNTRIES
Three current Bruins have earned recent call-ups with their respective country's national team. Maricarmen Reyes has been called up twice for Mexico, most recently in July for a pair of games in Japan. Idalia Serrano received her first call-up this summer for a training camp in El Salvador. Mia Fishel spent time last October at U.S. Women's National Team camp in Colorado.
BRUINS IN THE OLYMPICS
Four UCLA alumnae played prominent roles for their teams at the recently-completed 2020 Olympic Games. Midfielder Jessie Fleming (2016-19) led Canada to its first-ever Olympic gold medal, scoring the game-winner in the semifinals against the U.S. and the equalizer against Sweden in the gold medal match. Fleming was perfect from the penalty spot in the tournament, scoring both of her goals on penalty kicks and going 2-for-2 in shootouts. Abby Dahlkemper (2011-14) and Sam Mewis (2011-14) each had starting roles in the tournament for the U.S., which won bronze, and goalkeeper Teagan Micah (2016-19) had a breakout tournament for Australia, leading the Matildas to the bronze medal match and earning a shutout against the U.S. in group play. Micah started the last five games in the tournament after entering the Olympics with just one cap.
UCLA continues to rank among the national leaders with 18 former players in the NWSL. Three teams have three Bruins on their rosters - NJ/NY Gotham FC (Caprice Dydasco, Delanie Sheehan and McCall Zerboni), KC NWSL (Darian Jenkins, Hailie Mace and Katelyn Rowland), and the Chicago Red Stars (Zoey Goralski, Mal Pugh and Sarah Woldmoe). Two Bruins remain with North Carolina (Sam Mewis and Taylor Smith), OL Reign (Lauren Barnes and Rosie White), Orlando Pride (Sydney Leroux and Viviana Villacorta) and Washington Spirit (Karina Rodriguez and Ashley Sanchez). Also playing in the league is Megan Oyster from the Houston Dash.
UCLA has several alumnae playing overseas as well, with Lucy Parker (West Ham United), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC) and Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City) playing in the Barclays FA Women's Super League in England; Teagan Micah moving to FC Rosengard in Sweden; Rachel Lowe (Sydney FC) playing in the W-League in Australia; and Anika Rodriguez playing with PSV in the Netherlands. Siri Ervik plays for Kolbotn in her home country of Norway, and Chanté Sandiford plays for Stjarnan in Iceland.
FOLLOW THE LEADERS
UCLA women's soccer leads all collegiate soccer teams, men or women, in Instagram followers, boasting 81.8k followers. The Bruins are also in the Top 4 in NCAA women's soccer in Twitter followers with 20.9k. Follow UCLA Women's Soccer at @UCLAWSoccer on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok and /UCLAWSoccer on Facebook.