Oct. 30, 2009
LOS ANGELES - Playing in the final regular-season home match of her career, forward Lauren Cheney made her Senior Night one to remember, as she scored a pair of goals on Friday to give the third-ranked UCLA women's soccer team a 2-1 victory over No. 18 USC before 3,210 fans at Drake Stadium. With the win, the Bruins improve to 15-2-1 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-10. The Women of Troy, who fall to 0-13 all-time against UCLA in Westwood, move to 16-6 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
UCLA had control for most of the night, out-shooting its crosstown rival 19-7 for the match. In fact, had it not been for the spectacular play of USC senior goalkeeper Kristin Olsen, the Bruins would've likely added to their final tally. Olson finished with a match-high eight saves on the evening.
One of the Bruins' best chances came in the 35th minute when Sydney Leroux beat several defenders to get loose on the right side of the field. She crossed a ball into the box and Cheney drilled a shot from close-range that was saved by Olson. The ball squirted out to Kylie Wright, who then banged a shot off the left post and out of play.
UCLA had several more chances until Cheney eventually put the team up 1-0 with her 10th goal of the year just before halftime. The play started when Jenna Belcher managed to intercept a poor USC clearance and immediately send a ball into the box to a charging Cheney who was able to get a piece of it and slip it past Olson.
USC would get the equalizer in the 73rd minute on Courtney Garcia's fourth goal of the season. Samantha Johnson sent a cross into the box from the right side and Garcia slid into it, hitting a ball into the upper portion of the net past Bruin goalkeepr Chante' Sandiford.
The game was not tied for long, however, as Cheney hooked up with Bruin freshman Chelsea Cline for the eventual game winner at the 77:04 mark. Cline beat a pair of USC defenders to make a run down the right side. She crossed a ball in to Cheney, who one-timed a right-footed shot to the near post to give the Bruins a 2-1 advantage.
Cheney's game-winning goal on Friday was the 26th of her career, putting her into a three-way tie with Danesha Adams and Traci Arkenberg for the UCLA career lead. Cheney now also has 155 career points and 64 career goals. She trails only Arkenberg in both categories, as Arkenberg finished her UCLA career with 169 points and 71 goals.
After the match, head coach Jillian Ellis praised her team, but took time to recognize the great support the Bruins received for much of the night.
"Just a great crowd," said Ellis. "There was good energy. I think it helped us tonight. The game ebbed and flowed. When we need it, they really helped us."
UCLA rounds out the regular season next week on the road, traveling to the Pacific Northwest for matches against Washington and Washington State. At 6-1 in the conference, UCLA needs undefeated Stanford (7-0) to drop at least one of its final two matches for any shot at a seventh straight Pac-10 Championship.