The Bruins were defeated in their final conference game Friday by their crosstown rivals for the first time in seven years.
The Pac-12 trophy that sat looming in the distance did not accompany them home to Westwood.
The final whistle had been blown many moments prior, the crowd had cleared and the lights were about to be shut off.
But UCLA women’s soccer senior forward Sunshine Fontes remained on the field, marker in hand, signing shoes, T-shirts and other UCLA paraphernalia handed to her by a line full of young kids.
Thus far, the Bruins have dribbled their way to a dominant season.
With a new head coach at the helm, the blue and gold is off to its best start in program history and sits atop the national rankings – a picture-perfect beginning.
Sometimes personal bests do not always translate into first place.
Despite 12 runners each accumulating individual fastest times throughout the race, UCLA cross country placed third and seventh in the men’s 8,000-meter and women’s 6,000-meter races, respectively, in the Dellinger Invitational in Eugene.
The last time the Bruins boarded a plane to play a game, they returned to Westwood as the No. 1 team in the nation.
No. 1 UCLA women’s soccer (9-0, 1-0 Pac-12) will travel north to compete against Oregon (3-2-4, 1-0) and Oregon State (4-3-2, 0-1) on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
The Bruins already held a 3-0 lead at the hands of their top-three scorers with five minutes remaining.
Then, forward/midfielder MacKenzee Vance gathered the ball in her possession and, with no goalie in sight, headed for the goal.
UCLA is coming off a 2021-2022 season in which none of its teams won a national championship for the first time since 2016-2017 and just the second time since 2002.
Sam SettlemanSports editorPrediction: UCLA 49, Alabama State 6
Last week, I took UCLA to cover the spread.
While the Bruins did just that – although with a closer margin than I anticipated – I can’t imagine the same happening this week.
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