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UCLA shuts out N.C. State to advance to NCAA tournament quarterfinals

There was no room for doubt. The UCLA women’s soccer team made sure of that with its third 5-0 win of the NCAA tournament, this time against N.C. State, cruising through the third round.

UCLA will face North Carolina in the quarterfinals, on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Cary, N.C..

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“This team, I think, is clicking and peaking at the right time,” coach Amanda Cromwell said.

It only took five minutes for Jessie Fleming to find a hole in the Wolfpack defense. She drilled a low shot to the left that gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead — the assist credited to Ashley Sanchez and Olivia Athens.

By the 10-minute mark, UCLA took five shots, one on goal, with two corner kicks.

“We’ve been scoring a lot as a team,” Fleming said. “And I think it was just good to get on the score sheet early and kind of get the momentum on our side.”

Sanchez connected with Fleming again in the 21st minute. She found Fleming open, poised in front of the goal and launched a corner to her teammate. Fleming booted the ball to the same spot as her previous goal, extending UCLA’s lead to 2-0.

Sanchez set the UCLA record for assists in the NCAA tournament, with six this season.

“It’s just how dynamic she’s been,” Cromwell said. “She’s just been so creative in setting everybody else up.”

Said Fleming: “She’s just dangerous.”

The UCLA defense did not allow the Wolfpack to even take a shot until the 33rd minute, as the Bruins dominated possession and outshot N.C. State 15-2 in the first half that culminated with Rodriguez’s goal.

UCLA outshot the Wolfpack 26-5, tacking on two more goals in the final 10 minutes.

The Bruins earned another convincing win, boosting their confidence.

“We’re gonna keep building off that,” Sanchez said.

USC eliminated in penalty kicks

USC fell to Florida State 1-1 in penalty kicks Sunday, eliminating the Trojans from the NCAA tournament after the Sweet 16 in the program’s fifth straight tournament run.

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Penelope Hocking scored a goal in the first half, giving USC a 1-0 lead with the first postseason goal of her career, but the Seminoles scored in the second half off a corner kick.

The game went to penalty kicks after two scoreless overtime periods, where the Seminoles won 5-4, ending a season where USC recorded the second-most shutouts in program history.

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