6:00 PM – (1) UCLA vs (4) Pepperdine
Friday was a day for statements in Westwood as these two sides punished their opponents in the second round in a pair of devastating displays. The WCC side killed off one of the remaining Cinderellas in the NCAA Tournament by ruthlessly dispatching Illinois State. Amanda LeCave started the scoring early, and Pepperdine didn’t stop for the course of the ninety minutes. Lynn Williams put on a brilliant performance, scoring twice and assisting on Pepperdine’s final goal to cap off a great day for the Waves’ attack. Just as importantly, Pepperdine was able to keep the Illinois State attack, namely Rachel Tejada, as contained as any side has this season. There’s a big difference between ISU and UCLA though, and the Bruins are likely to make that point clear in the opening minutes of Sunday’s showdown. Pepperdine made a bright start to the regular season clash between the teams but were ultimately defeated in decisive fashion. They’ll need a Herculean effort and probably some luck to shock the world in Westwood.
UCLA took a talented Harvard team and flat-out destroyed them. As was the case with their opening round match, the Bruins jumped on their opponent early and didn’t let up, going up 2-0 after seven minutes and going into the break up 4-0. It wasn’t just an unstoppable offensive performance either, with the vaunted defense holding the Crimson to just a single shot on goal all night. Sarah Killion took top honors with two goals and an assist in just forty-five minutes of action, while the sensational late season of form of Kylie McCarthy continued, as she scored again in limited minutes. It goes without saying that the degree of difficulty ramps up considerably at this point, as there are no more gimmes at this stage of the competition. Pepperdine were eventually batted aside in the regular season, but they were more than game for the opening minutes of their encounter in Hawaii. The Bruins won’t want to give Lynn Williams any clean looks at goal, while the offense will aim to keep the goals rolling. Being able to bring players like Darian Jenkins off the bench is a frightening proposition for opponents, and UCLA’s depth may well lead them to another dominant win on Sunday.
CF – Lynn Williams (PEP) vs CB – Abby Dahlkemper (UCLA)
The nation’s best senior striker will hope to add another feather into her cap after a stunning showing on Friday, when she scored twice and assisted on a third as the Waves blitzed Illinois State en route to this Sweet Sixteen rematch. Williams usually has the advantage in pace on her markers, but that may not be the case in this one against the Bruins’ Abby Dahlkemper, the rock at the heart of the backline for the Pac-12 champs. Given the fact that Pepperdine has often struggled with consistent offense when Williams hasn’t been a big influence in the match, UCLA will be hoping their star center-back can keep her opposing number’s contributions to a minimum on Sunday night.
CF – Kylie McCarthy (UCLA) vs CB – Meagan Harbison (PEP)
The Bruins have been boosted late this year by the emergence of senior Kylie McCarthy as a frightening scoring threat at tip of the formation. UCLA’s new heroine has seven goals on just twenty shots as she’s taken her chance as a starter with both hands and run with it. McCarthy’s usage numbers are ridiculous despite a limited sample size, and if she’s in red hot form, opponents stand little chance considering the Bruins’ strength in the other lines. The thankless task of trying to corral McCarthy in part falls upon Meagan Harbison, who had a solid season for the Waves in defense and midfield. But really, it’s going to take a team effort for the Waves to stop McCarthy and the rest of the UCLA offense.
GK – Katelyn Rowland (UCLA) vs GK – Hannah Seabert (PEP)
Katelyn Rowland doesn’t make too many mistakes in goal for UCLA and usually doesn’t have to make too many big saves in goal for the Bruins behind one of the most fearsome backlines ever assembled. Instead, much of the focus is going to instead be on Pepperdine keeper Hannah Seabert. Seabert’s had some fine moments in goal for the Waves throughout 2014, but she’ll need to play one of her best matches in her collegiate career to drive Pepperdine to an upset. Given the form of UCLA’s offense in the first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament, said effort may involve standing on her head and dodging a few kitchen sinks from the defending national champs.