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UCLA secures top-four seed in the NCAA women’s soccer tournament

A sour ending to the regular season didn’t knock UCLA off the top line of the NCAA tournament bracket.

The Bruins earned one of four No. 1 seeds in the 64-team postseason field announced Monday despite losing their regular-season finale to USC last Friday. UCLA (17-2-0) will host Northern Arizona in the first round at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Coming off their first win over UCLA since 2015, the fourth-seeded Trojans (12-2-3) will host UC Irvine in the first round on Saturday at 1 p.m. USC, which went 4-0 against ranked teams this year, defeated the Anteaters at McAllister Field 3-2 on Sept. 15.

Irvine (10-5-6) clinched its second consecutive Big West title on Sunday with a win over Cal State Long Beach. The Anteaters won the conference as the No. 6 seed, the lowest-seeded team to earn the Big West’s automatic postseason bid.

UCLA and USC both return to the NCAA tournament under first-year coaches. UCLA’s Margueritte Aozasa led the Bruins to their best start in school history by winning 13 consecutive games to begin the year and spent nine weeks as the nation’s No. 1 team. Jane Alukonis, a former UCLA assistant, spoiled her former team’s bid at the conference title with the rivalry win that nabbed two Pac-12 weekly awards for the Trojans. Kaylin Martin was named conference defender of the week and Anna Smith earned goalkeeper of the week honors after USC kept UCLA, which leads the conference in scoring, scoreless for just the second time this season.

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