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UCLA Sports

UCLA, USC women’s soccer teams to open NCAA tournament at home

UCLA’s Ashley Sanchez plays for UCLA women’s soccer team in 2018.
UCLA’s Ashley Sanchez plays for UCLA women’s soccer team in 2018.
(Percy Anderson/ UCLA Athletics)

UCLA and USC will both open the NCAA women’s soccer playoffs at home, with the Bruins hosting Lamar on Friday and the Trojans meeting Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

Nine Pac-12 teams, led by conference champion Stanford, received invitations to the national tournament, most of any conference. Stanford (18-1-0, 11-0-0) also earned a No. 1 tournament seed for a fourth consecutive year.

UCLA (14-4-1, 8-3-0), which beat USC on Friday to finish second in the Pac-12, is a No. 2 seed, as are the Trojans (14-4-1, 7-4-0).

UCLA, ranked 14th in the coaches poll, closed the regular season with five straight wins and eight victories in its final nine games. It will be making its 23rd appearance in the national tournament.

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Since 2012, the Bruins have played in the NCAA quarterfinals five times and the championship game twice, winning the national title in 2013.

Lamar (16-6-0), the Southland Conference champion, is on a 12-game winning streak. It has the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense (3.05 goals per game) and top goal-scorer in Esther Okoronkwo (25 goals). But UCLA has allowed just 15 goals in 19 games. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Ninth-ranked USC will be making its 18th postseason appearance overall and sixth straight under coach Keidane McAlpine, who hasn’t missed the national tournament since coming to USC from Washington State in 2014. But he could open the playoffs this year without leading scorer Tina McKeown and captain Jalen Woodward. Both missed the regular-season finale with injuries and McAlpine may wait until just before Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff before deciding if either can play.

USC has advanced past the opening round of the national tournament each of the last four seasons, winning the national championship in 2016.

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Fullerton (14-2-4) picked up the Big West’s automatic playoff bid with a win in the conference tournament. The two Southern California neighbors met in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA tournament, with USC advancing on penalty kicks.

Pepperdine (11-6-2) received an at-large bid and will travel to Texas Tech for its first-round matchup Friday.

In the Division III tournament, Cal Lutheran (12-3-3) will play UC Santa Cruz (13-3-2) and Claremont Mudd-Scripps (10-4-3) will face Emory (13-4-0) in first-round games Friday at Cal Lutheran. Pomona-Pitzer (17-1-1) will play St. Scholastica (14-7-0) in its first-round game in Waverly, Iowa.

Pomona and Cal Lutheran are ranked 1-2 in the West Region.


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