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UCLA women’s soccer team is not caught off-guard by Pac-12’s conference-only slate

UCLA women's soccer coach Amanda Cromwell gives instructions to the Bruins during a practice in 2014.
UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell, seen in 2014, said with a laugh Friday that “nothing at this point will surprise me, to tell you the truth.”
(Los Angeles Times)

From a simple one-month delay to a full spring season, coach Amanda Cromwell has tried to keep the UCLA women’s soccer team prepared for anything amid a pandemic. So the Bruins weren’t caught off-guard when the Pac-12 announced Friday it will move to a conference-only schedule for all 2020 fall sports because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Nothing at this point will surprise me, to tell you the truth,” Cromwell said with a laugh.

The Pac-12’s decision followed a similar move by the Big Ten announced Thursday. Without guidance from the NCAA about COVID-19 standards, the responsibility is falling to individual conferences and schools. Limiting nonconference games allows Pac-12 schools to compete under uniform testing and safety protocols.

“It didn’t really make sense to make sure we’re prepared and COVID-free and other schools weren’t doing the same protocols,” said Cromwell, who led UCLA women’s soccer to the program’s first NCAA title in 2013. “So I get the decision.”

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Cromwell admitted she is disappointed to not get the full schedule. She would have loved for her team to compete against Brigham Young, a 2019 NCAA quarterfinalist, and Santa Clara, which advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament last year. The Bruins also were slated to face former UCLA assistant coaches in Louise Lieberman at San Diego and Loyola Marymount’s Jenny Bindon.

Without the usual nonconference games leading up Pac-12 competition, Cromwell said conference coaches will meet soon to discuss modifications. The Pac-12 said in a statement Friday that details on a conference-only schedule will be announced no later than July 31.

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The Pac-12 also delayed the start of mandatory athletic activities “until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.”

UCLA began welcoming student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts June 22, the first phase in a four-step plan. Cromwell said about 15 players have returned. The minimal feedback she has been allowed to have about the workouts has been overwhelmingly positive. The coach returned to her office this week for just the second time in the last two months.

USC has seen only four positive cases out of 201 tests in three rounds, but the Pac-12 is pushing back mandatory workouts and athletes are cautious.

Being on campus gives her hope.

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She also knows it’s going to take much more than hope to get things trending in the right direction.

“A lot of people’s actions, personal actions dampened things for everybody else,” Cromwell said. “I think if we as a country can decide like, ‘Hey, we’re going to be a little bit more mindful about our social responsibility and keeping each other safe,’ then I will get more hope, but I know the Pac-12, UCLA, even the NCAA, they want to play these games.”


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