LOS ANGELES -- Washington (5-5-2, 1-0-2) remained unbeaten in conference, earning a big road point with a 0-0 draw at No. 3 UCLA (10-1-1, 2-0-1). The Dawgs joined defending NCAA Champion North Carolina as the only teams to avoid a loss against the Bruins this season.
“We defended well for 110 minutes,” said head coach Lesle Gallimore. “I wish we would have done better with the possession we had, but it was just a tremendous job defending. We played disciplined and I was proud of how we fought.”
Washington played an outstanding defensive game, weathering the storm of one of the top-scoring teams in the country. UCLA came into the game having scored 23 goals in 11 games, but the Dawgs shut them down with terrific play from the back four and goalkeeper Megan Kufeld.
Kufeld was credited with eight saves, but also was a commanding presence in the box, clearing balls and organizing her defense.
“Megan is really growing in confidence,” said Gallimore. “It is impressive to come down here to Los Angeles and get two clean sheets. She is a young player, but the only thing she was really lacking is experience. Now, she is taking command back there and showing how talented she is.”
Kufeld got help all over the field as the backline of Molly Boyd, Allyson Brahs, Lindsey Bos and Havana McElvaine played mistake-free soccer, clearing each Bruin chance at goal. However, Gallimore noticed that the attacking players were also a big part of the defensive effort.
“I thought it was the best defending our midfielders and forwards have done all season.”
The Dawgs and Bruins played an even first half with UCLA gaining only a single-shot advantage, 3-2. After the break, the Bruins brought in several substitutes off the bench and began to control possession. UCLA earned an 8-2 edge in shots in the second half and then 13-0 in the two overtime periods.
In overtime, the Bruins grew desperate and at times, settling for shots from distance rather than creating real chances. The Husky defense seemed to frustrate the UCLA attack as they were unable to breakthrough. UCLA did hit a crossbar and force Kufeld into a big save, but Washington held strong and earned the huge road draw.
The Dawgs now return home for their first conference home games. Washington hosts Utah and Colorado next weekend and Oregon the following Thursday with a chance to remain near the top of the Pac-12 standings.