The UCLA men’s soccer team looked to continue its outright domination of their Pac-12 conference opponents this weekend, taking the fight to the home stadiums of its Northern California rivals.
And, as has been the case all season, the No. 8 Bruins’ conference foes were no match for them.
The Bruins (14-4-1, 9-0-0 Pac-12) posted a 2-0 victory over Cal(3-8-5, 0-6-3) Friday and topped Stanford (5-10-2, 2-6-1) 3-0 Sunday behind strong defensive play and a knack for keeping possession for very long stretches of time.
After Friday’s game, UCLA clinched its seventh Pac-12 conference title.
“The guys have done a really good job to be 9-0 at this point in the season,” coach Jorge Salcedo said. “We have gotten better throughout the conference. The last four games, we haven’t been scored on, and now we’re scoring more goals as well.”
Standing with a perfect 27 points from nine games, Salcedo and his Bruins are looking to keep themselves motivated for the final game of the season against San Diego State.
“We’re going to continue to push, because we want to be 10-0 in the first Pac-12 season,” Salcedo said. “With the Pac-12 title clinched, what we’re playing for now is getting the highest possible seed in the (NCAA) Tournament.”
The conference title is UCLA’s third in the last four years. The Bruins have dropped seemingly winnable games against non-conference opponents such as UC Davis, SMU and Cal State Northridge, but senior defender Shawn Singh said that those games were learning experiences.
“We learned a lot from the games outside of conference,” Singh said. “We took those in a positive manner and just moved forward from them and just made the changes that we needed to to be successful.”
Junior forward Chandler Hoffman had a productive weekend, bagging a goal against Cal and providing an assist in each game. Hoffman has now scored 14 goals in 19 games.
On the defensive side of things, senior goalkeeper Brian Rowe has not allowed a single shot to beat him in the last four games, and his goals against average is now an impressive 0.86. However, Rowe refuses to take all the credit for his success.
“These last four games haven’t had to do too much with me,” Rowe said. “The defense is making it very easy for me. We’re keeping the ball for most of the game and not really giving a lot of chances for the other team to build an attack.”
Also on the scoresheet this weekend for the Bruins were senior winger Eder Arreola, sophomore forward Victor Chavez and Singh.
Singh’s effort was particularly impressive. The former walk-on blasted a shot from the left side of the pitch 30 yards away from the goal with the outside of his left foot that cannoned off the top of the far post before ricocheting into the left side netting.
The Bruins face off against San Diego State (10-5-3, 7-1-2) Saturday in San Diego in the final game of the season.