A soccer team with a first-year head coach and 13 newcomers wouldn’t normally garner high expectations.
Yet, despite those challenges, the UCLA women’s soccer team is undefeated with a 6-0-1 record as the Bruins head into their last week of non-conference play. Their only tie has been a 1-1 road game against then No. 24 Pepperdine.
B.J. Snow, who was an assistant under Jillian Ellis, took on the head coaching position after Ellis left UCLA to pursue a career with U.S. Soccer.
After their home-opening 1-0 win against Rutgers last week, Snow told uclabruins.com that he expected a learning curve for his team with all the new players and the team’s pre-season success has been a bit unexpected.
“We’re still getting to know ourselves a little bit,” Snow said. “We expect we’re going to have these bumps in the road where sometimes things don’t go as planned. If you would have asked me three weeks ago if we could be in this position, I would have taken it in an instant.”
The Bruins debuted at No. 16 in the Preseason NSCAA Rankings and have since jumped to No. 4, holding that position for the past two weeks.
One of the reasons for the Bruins success so far, has to be the play of senior forward and team captain Sydney Leroux.
Leroux, who has been UCLA’s top scorer for the past two seasons, currently leads the Bruins in scoring with six goals. Four of those goals were game-winners, putting her in a 6-way tie nationally for the most game-winning goals.
Honors have been coming in for Leroux, who was named as an early candidate for the most prestigious individual award in collegiate soccer – the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy. She was a semifinalist for the trophy as a sophomore in 2009.
Leroux has also been nominated for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award which honors male and female soccer players for their accomplishments both on and off the field, focusing on notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
Following her performance at the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic on Aug. 27 and 28, Leroux was named tournament MVP, followed by Pac-12 Women's Player of the Week for Aug. 22-29, and UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week for Aug. 22-28.
Leroux has had plenty of success outside of UCLA, as well. She is the most capped player ever at the Under-20 level for the U.S. and she holds the U.S. record for the most goals scored at the U-20 level, where she also served as team captain.
During the past summer, Leroux played for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the USL W-League and was named Rookie of the Year.
Leroux is posting a video blog called Syd’s Shots on uclabruins.com.
UCLA heads to Loyola Marymount University on Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. non-conference game.