Heading into the UCLA v UCSD DI women’s college game last Saturday, the Bruins and their 3-0 victory were favored to exit the day with a win. And while the prediction held true, it was no easy road to the 31-5 victory.
The first half nearly ended in a stalemate as both teams struggled to move the ball. Play was getting caught up in the rucks, and while there weren’t many scrums, there were plenty of penalties, which continued to stall momentum.
The UCSD’s aggression in the breakdown yielded dividends 30 minutes in, when a well placed ball made its way to UCSD’s outside center, who broke through the line for a 30-meter try, 5-0 into the break.
“It was clear where UCLA was getting beat,” UCLA coach Tia Blythe said. “After a quick halftime talk, the UCLA forwards stepped onto the field with a renewed energy."
UCLA hustled to every breakdown and allowed scrumhalf Lucy Tin to deliver clean ball out to the backs. On one such occasion, the ball made its way to wing Noorin Dorosti, who gathered her grubber kick down the sideline for the try. Dorosti converted her centered try for the 7-5 lead.
That play fired up the UCLA team and it was all Bruins after that moment. The backs picked up their defense and UCSD was unable to breach the line.
Prop Elizabeth Sanchez accounted for the next two tries. The first came off a lineout inside UCSD’s 22 meter, and the second followed a series of forward punches along the sideline. Dorosti converted Sanchez’s first try for the 19-5 lead.
Fullback Jordan Klein put one in for the backs, inserting into the line and splitting the UCSD centers for the try. The forwards helped set up the final score – and final play of the game – working to the 22 meter with another series of punches. Tin worked the ball out to her backs, and outside center Ana Peck took advantage of the same defensive gap between her opposing centers for the try. Dorosti converted the score for the 31-5 victory.
“UCSD is a great team,” Blythe commended. “They started off the season with a few injuries and had to make some adjustments, but they came out to the pitch ready to play. Their forward pack really challenged us at each breakdown and really forced the UCLA forwards to push themselves.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Blythe continued. “There is always room for improvement and our team realizes that the level of play that we will see at Nationals is of a higher caliber. Now that we have secured a spot to nationals, in the final two games of the regular season we hope to continue to develop our team and perfect our game plan.”
The teams will meet again on March 10 in their final games of the regular season. UCLA will see Arizona State this Saturday, while UC San Diego takes on UC Santa Barbara.