Behind the Score:
Career starts for Cervantes
Career goals for Sofia, all game-winners
Amount of time it took for Williams to score two goals on Friday
Two UCLA defenders and a Maryland attacker converged on the ball in the penalty box, but it soared past them and set perfectly at the feet of John Stertzer.
UCLA freshman goalkeeper Juan Cervantes slid to his right and found himself, in his first career start, faced up one-on-one against the senior midfielder with the game hanging in the balance.
Already with a goal to his name, Sterzer didn’t hesitate and lashed a left-footed shot on-frame only to be denied at the last possible second when Cervantes reached his right hand out and got a piece of the ball. Cervantes’ critical reaction save in the 93rd minute prevented No. 11 UCLA from going down in its second consecutive game to start the year.
Instead, along with a pair of first-half goals by junior forward Reed Williams, the save helped ensure a 2-2 tie at No. 6 Maryland on Friday.
“In hindsight, it’s pretty crazy to think that Cervantes’ first time he started a match was at Maryland and at Virginia,” said coach Jorge Salcedo. “You probably couldn’t choose two more difficult environments, situations to put a freshman goalkeeper, but he absolutely did a fantastic job.”
The Bruins used Cervantes in goal on their two-game road trip because of an injury to redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Earl Edwards.
“The (Maryland) game was in front of 6,500 fans, rowdy fans, and they were heckling him the whole game,” Williams said of Cervantes. “The thing is, as a freshman, you don’t know how they’re going to react, but I think he reacted great and he had a great weekend.”
Cervantes carried the momentum over from his game-saving stop on Friday, posting his first career shutout Sunday as the Bruins again went to overtime on the road.
Sophomore Leo Stolz’s corner kick in the 99th minute ricocheted off a defender’s back and junior defender Joe Sofia deposited the loose ball into the back of the net to secure a 1-0 golden goal victory over Virginia.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Sofia said. “Our boys and our team put together a lot of hard work and for me to get the game-winner feels really great, but not for a personal level, just to do it for our team to get that win.”
Cervantes came up big for the Bruins on the road trip, recording five saves on Friday and three saves on Sunday, playing the entirety of both matches.
“Sunday games are usually low scoring (and) it’s usually more about which team can grind out a goal to win,” Williams said. “The defense and the goalie did a great job today to keep it at zero for so long and (Sofia) even stepped it up further, and scored for us so great job from our defense.”
The Bruins return from their East Coast trip for a pair of home games this week against Tulsa on Friday and UC Irvine on Sunday. Tulsa upset No. 3 New Mexico, who beat UCLA in its season opener.
“It’s been my philosophy to try and play some of the more challenging non-conference matchups year in and year out, and what it’s done for us is prepare us for our conference play … and then hopefully make a good run in the playoffs,” Salcedo said.