Nov. 22, 2008
LOS ANGELES - After scoring both Bruin goals in a win over the Women of Troy earlier in the year, junior Kristina Larsen struck once again Saturday night, as her goal in the 13th minute helped the top-seeded UCLA women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over fourth-seeded USC in the NCAA Round of 16 at Drake Stadium. With the win, UCLA (21-0-2) advances to host third-seeded Duke (15-5-3) next Saturday in the NCAA Quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m.
"It's just sweet to go to the quarterfinals," said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis. "We knew we had the toughest third round match in the country. USC is a very good team. It's a big win for us. We're just thrilled to be moving on."
UCLA's goal came at the 12:19 mark and was initiated on a corner kick from the left side by Lauren Wilmoth. The ball was played into the box, and midfielder McCall Zerboni got a body on it, sending the ball toward the right corner of the goal. USC defender Karter Haug tried to clear it off the line, however Larsen jumped in front, deflecting the ball off her hip and into the goal.
"It's just about being aggressive in the box," said Larsen, who scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season on Saturday. "I just put my body in front of it and it went in."
When asked about her knack for scoring against USC she added, "It's a rivalry, and I try to step up to the challenge."
Unlike the first meeting between the two teams this season - where the chances were fairly even - UCLA controlled the play for much of the night Saturday. The Bruins owned a 17-6 lead in the final shot count, coming very close to scoring two more goals in the second half. Midfielder Christina DiMartino had the Bruins' best chance, banging a shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 66th minute. Freshman Whitney Sharpe also nearly got one in the 86th minute after a Kara Lang shot deflected off USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen and out in front of the goal. Sharpe ran onto it unmarked, however Olsen just made it out on time to stuff her shot before she could send it in.
UCLA broke the school record for shutouts in a season on Saturday, posting its 19th of the year. The old record was 18 set by the 2005 team that advanced to the NCAA Final. The Bruins continue to lead the country in goals allowed, surrendering just four in 23 matches.
USC (16-5-2) continues to have trouble against UCLA in Westwood, as the Bruins improve to 12-0 all-time against the Women of Troy at home. The Lexus Gauntlet standings did not change Saturday, as UCLA already owned the five Gauntlet points for women's soccer by defeating USC earlier in the year. The Trojans currently own a 15-5 lead over the Bruins in the all-sports race.
Duke advanced to the quarterfinals by upsetting second-seeded Virginia, 2-0 on Saturday in Charlottesville. The last time the Blue Devils visited Drake Stadium was during the 2004 NCAA Round of 16, a 2-0 Bruin win.