The Bruins have managed to erase every deficit they have faced so far this season.
Prior to Friday afternoon, on three of the four occasions in which the blue and gold were playing from behind, they managed to net a goal in the 75th minute or later to push each contest to overtime. On Friday, after trailing for nearly 80 minutes, the Bruins avoided overtime altogether.
No. 3 seed UCLA women’s soccer (13-1-2, 9-1-1 Pac-12) staged another comeback with a 2-1 victory in its second-round NCAA tournament match against Iowa (7-9-1, 2-8-1 Big Ten) on Friday afternoon in North Carolina. The come-from-behind win continued a trend from the regular season.
“With this team, the mentality of losing just isn’t there,” said freshman forward Reilyn Turner. “(On Friday), we just knew we weren’t going to lose, and with the people we have on our team, we’re not going to let each other down, and we’re going to work together until the last whistle blows.”
While the Bruins recorded a season-high 23 shots, they were unable to beat Hawkeye goalkeeper Macy Enneking until the 85th minute. Turner – UCLA’s goals and points leader in the regular season – scored two goals in a less-than-five-minute span, including a 90th-minute winner to send her team to the round of 16.
Though all the Bruin shot attempts prior to the late score were unsuccessful, coach Amanda Cromwell said she believed the team would eventually find the back of the net.
“You felt a (goal) was coming,” Cromwell said. “But then a little doubt creeps in sometimes – we hit the post, header just over, (shot) just wide – a little bit of that doubt creeps in. That’s normal. On the bench to myself I was saying, ‘We’ve scored every game, we can score in this game.’ You have to keep that positive mindset and mantra.”
Turner, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, has been no stranger to late-game dramatics in her first year in Westwood. The forward was responsible for the 86th-minute goal in a 2-2 draw against USC on March 18 in the first matchup between the crosstown rivals, pushing the game to overtime.
Nearly a month later, against the defending national champion Stanford, Turner scored her ninth goal of the season in the 77th minute to force another extra time period in which UCLA only needed a minute to net the golden goal.
In their last fixture before the tournament, the Bruins earned another 2-2 draw against the Trojans after rallying from a 2-0 second half deficit with an equalizing 88th-minute header from senior midfielder Olivia Athens.
“You look at the (USC) game and the Stanford game – we know we can come back, we know we can score goals,” Cromwell said. “I think this team has a genuine belief in each other. As people, as teammates, as human beings.”
In its 15 regular-season games and one postseason contest played so far this year, UCLA has recorded seven victories with a one-goal margin and played in five overtime matches – both the most in a season since 2016.
Redshirt senior defender Jacey Pederson, who provided the cross that led to the winning goal Friday, said this year has been filled with tense moments.
“It’s always a bit dramatic, but we are not going to lose,” Pederson said. “Our crosses in, we put them in there and we know (sophomore forward) Mia (Fishel) and Reilyn are going to cause some trouble. What we’re doing is the easy part, they’re doing the hard part.”
UCLA will face No. 14 seed Clemson in the third round of the tournament Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Cary, North Carolina.