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November 10, 2007

UCLA’s Danesha Adams
By T.J. Boyce

Danesha Adams and the UCLA Bruins are riding a 37-game home winning streak and sit at the top of the national polls.
Danesha Adams and the UCLA Bruins are riding a 37-game home winning streak and sit at the top of the national polls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
LOS ANGELES--On an emotionally charged Senior Day at Drake Stadium, the top-ranked UCLA women honored the team’s four departing graduates. Shortly thereafter, the Bruins went out and dismantled the University of Arizona by a score of 3-0. For senior Danesha Adams, it was just another day at the office, but the midfielder couldn’t help but look back on her time at the school, quickly drawing to a close.

“It was a big day for us,” reflected Adams, 21. “My career is coming to an end. We have a possible eight more games left and then that’s it for me at UCLA.”

Through Adams’ career with the team, UCLA has reeled off an impressive 37 straight wins at home and currently sits at the top of national polls. Adams has been a big part of that run, starting with a two-goal performance in her first collegiate game back in 2004, all the way to this season, where she has set a career high with eight assists to go with nine goals.

“In the beginning I was scared,” Adams admitted. “In my freshman year I came in nervous, (but) I got more confidence as the years have gone on. I’ve succeeded further in the program at UCLA as well as the national team.”

Named U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2006 after scoring 21 times for the Bruins the year before, Adams’ role on the field has changed in her senior season. Sophomore Lauren Cheney has picked up the scoring for the team, allowing Adams to move around more in the midfield and grow into a different player.

“I think I’ve grown as a player. The whole four years that I’ve been here, every year I’ve gotten better and better. When I came in here I was just this girl who was really fast. But that gets me nowhere here. There are girls just as fast as me,” said Adams. “I got better in terms of my game, being smarter and quicker off the ball, doing things a lot better and also being able to play with my teammates.”

UCLA coach Jillian Ellis agreed with Adams’ self-assessment.

“Danesha has been a major player from the time she stepped on campus as far as her impact on the program. It’s been so great to see her develop as a person and grow, because she’s come a long way,” said a smiling Coach Ellis. She’s still got a lot more in her but we’ve gotten a lot out of her. I’m just very proud of what she’s done for the program.”

“Obviously, her athletic ability and her technical ability make her a potent attacking player,” continued Ellis. “But this year she’s worked hard defensively; she’s working at her game. I think that the fact that she’s continuing to try and get better makes her very important to us.”

Adams has gone on to represent her country at the FIFA Under-20 World Championships in Russia, as well as being on the winning squad for the 2007 Nordic Cup in Finland. She also was called up to the full national squad, receiving her first cap on October 1, 2006. In that game, Adams came on in the 75th minute and recorded an assist just seven minutes later on the final goal of the USA’s 10-0 drubbing of Chinese Taipei.

“Stepping on the field with the full national team was a great experience for me, but I couldn’t have done that without my teammates and the coaching staff that I have here to help me get better every single day,” she attested. “Hopefully I can play with the full team as a career.”

Though her days at UCLA are certainly drawing to a close, Adams is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

“The future’s bright for me. I think I have a lot of time to grow and I’m going to keep stepping up.”
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