Wednesday, June 26

Men’s soccer opens up Pac-10 with consecutive wins

Bruins ready to defend championship with games against Oregon State, Washington

David Estrada corrals the ball for the Bruins in a match last season. The senior forward leads the nation in assists this season with six.

David Estrada corrals the ball for the Bruins in a match last season. The senior forward leads the nation in assists this season with six. Brantley Watson / Daily Bruin

Having conquered the first trimester of their season with only one glaring blemish, the UCLA men’s soccer team is set to defend its 2008 Pac-10 championship.

The No. 4 Bruins are opening up conference play against Oregon State tonight in Corvallis, Ore., then traveling to face the Washington Huskies in Seattle on Sunday afternoon.

Since their defeat at the hands of Georgetown in the second game of the season on Sept. 6, the Bruins (5-1) have reeled off four consecutive decisive victories, outscoring their opponents 11-2 over the course of those four contests.

Most impressive about the Bruins’ recent streak is the fact that three of those wins have been without 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year, senior midfielder Michael Stephens, and one of the nation’s top goalkeepers, senior Brian Perk.

Perk and Stephens are currently in Egypt competing with the Under-20 U.S. National Team.

Stepping up significantly in the absence of Stephens has been fellow senior midfielder Kyle Nakazawa. In addition to being named Pac-10 Player of the Week, Nakazawa also earned National Player of the Week honors by College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer.

He leads the Bruins in several key statistical categories, including goals scored, total points scored, and game-winning goals.

Alongside Nakazawa’s offensive efforts has been the consistent play of senior forward David Estrada. For the past two weeks, Estrada has led the nation in assists, tallying six in six games.

As for Friday’s game, the Bruins have dominated Oregon State (4-2-2) throughout the years, and UCLA has racked up seven consecutive triumphs over the Beavers. In addition, the Bruins have won 19 out of 23 matches against Oregon State all-time.

Friday’s matchup will also serve as something of a homecoming for one Bruin. Brian Rowe, who has been playing in place of Perk during his absence, is a native Oregonian who attended high school in Eugene.

Rowe has accumulated a record of 3-0 playing in place of Perk, posting one shutout and allowing two goals total.

The Bruins are coming off of a first-place finish in the Pac-10 in 2008, posting a record of 7-1-2. In four games against Oregon State and Washington (3-4-1), playing each twice, the Bruins held both the Beavers and Huskies scoreless.

After this weekend’s road trip, up next for the Bruins will be their second trip to San Diego this season when they travel to face the San Diego State Aztecs on Oct. 11 in their third conference game of the season.

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