(1) UCLA vs (28) Arizona – 10:00 PM
The defending national champs already likely have a #1 seed in the bag, so all that’s left for them really is both extending their unbeaten streak, which has hit thirty-five matches, and step closer to a Pac-12 title, with Stanford hot on their heels after the Card beat Colorado like a drum on Thursday night. The Bruins have the thoroughly odd Pac-12 schedule with this being the last of five straight matches at home, while the club ends the regular season with five straight on the road (though that last match is against USC down the road). After the high drama of the 2-1 comeback win against Stanford, UCLA was able to flex its muscles against Cal on Monday night in a 3-0 win against the NorCal side. Of course, that also brings up the fact that the Bruins are coming into this one on short rest, having played Cal just four days ago. While you seriously doubt there’ll be any fitness issues considering Amanda Cromwell’s reputation, it’s still something to keep in mind against the Wildcats. Sam Mewis will look to continue her push towards the Hermann Trophy with another starring display on Friday. She had assists on UCLA’s first two goals on Monday and continues to impress in her senior season. The defense limited Cal to a single shot on goal, which bodes well against an Arizona side that can get in amongst the goals when on form.
Arizona will be looking for some payback after they saw their Pac-12 winning streak snapped at three with a defeat at Washington last Sunday. The Wildcats looked to be hanging tough against UW but were ultimately undone by a pair of late goals. Despite that setback, the Wildcats are all but assured of an NCAA Tournament berth thanks to earlier results against Texas A&M and Washington State. More success means better odds of a home match in the first round though, so Arizona will want to come away with one of the upsets of the season on Friday. When it’s gone wrong, it’s gone really wrong though, as both of Arizona’s league defeats were by multiple goals, with Zona being shutout in each. The four goals they scored against Washington State showed just what this club can do offensively though, which has to give them a little confidence heading into a showdown with UCLA’s defense. Gabi Stoian and Alexandra Dollar have combined for fourteen goals, and each is going to have a sizable impact on Friday if Arizona’s to upset the odds. With Stanford and Cal next week, this is a brutal stretch for Tony Amato’s team, but there’s little evidence that these Wildcats are going to have a late season swoon in the final weeks of the regular season.