If there were any doubts as to whether UCLA men’s soccer could repeat as Pac-12 champions, they may have been put to rest on Sunday.
Coming into conference play voted the favorite to win the conference by the Pac-12 coaches, the Bruins demonstrated why they earned that distinction.
UCLA made a statement beginning Pac-12 play over the weekend, earning 3-1 victories over Stanford (4-5-0, 1-1 Pac-12) and Cal in games that looked very one-sided.
No. 9 UCLA and Cal met on Sunday in a match that pitted the past two Pac-12 champions against each other. The Bruins took the upper hand in the conference title race with their commanding performance.
Cal (6-3-1, 1-1), coming off a double overtime victory on Friday, looked noticeably worn down Sunday and UCLA (7-1-2, 2-0) took advantage. After a scoreless first half, the Bruins put their foot on the accelerator in the second half, scoring two goals in the first 15 minutes of play.
Coming into the weekend, the Bruins had yet to win a game by more than a goal, so the offensive outburst came as a pleasant surprise and allowed coach Jorge Salcedo to go a bit deeper into his bench.
“We’ve had so many 1-0 matches this year. For us to have basically the game wrapped up with about 15, 20 minutes to go (against Cal), it’s a good feeling,” Salcedo said.
With the team’s five-game road trip now over, UCLA will return to Westwood, but its success on the road will help at home, where they’ll face Oregon State on Friday.
“If you win your road games obviously we’re going to defend our home field with all that we have and all that we are. And if we come on the road and get positive results it puts pressure on the other teams in the conference,” Salcedo said.
Compiled by Kevin Bowman, Bruin Sports senior staff.