Oregon State 0
Behind the Score:
The Bruins have two goals for every one their opponents do this season.
Assists by UCLA players this season
A huge banner, fluttering gently in the breeze, provided an impressive backdrop to the UCLA men’s soccer game at Drake Stadium. On the banner was a sizable list of dates ““ title years of the Bruins’ NCAA, Pac-12 and College Cup championships ““ providing a reminder of the team’s history of success.
UCLA needed that reminder Friday, as they battled to overcome a sluggish first half against Oregon State (5-4-1, 0-2 Pac-12) in a hard-fought physical game that they ultimately won, 1-0.
Entering the game as the nation’s No. 8 team, UCLA did not look the part at first. Bothered by the Beavers’ physical play and aggressive defense, the Bruins struggled to find their rhythm.
“We were too slow in the first half. We were too complacent. We were going the same pace the whole time and our coaches let us know that at halftime,” said junior forward Reed Williams.
As the second half began, it was immediately evident that the Bruins were a different team, refocused and reenergized by coach Jorge Salcedo’s halftime speech.”It was one of those halftime talks that we need to be better and flat-out play the way we have been playing. We had too many players that were taking plays off in the first half,” Salcedo said.
In the second half, UCLA (8-1-2, 3-0) showed why the banner behind the field listed so many dates. Aided by their new mentality and game plan, the Bruins looked much more aggressive on offense, which resulted in several scoring opportunities.
Finally, in the 64th minute, UCLA was able to cash in on those opportunities. Junior forward Victor Chavez buried a ball in the bottom left corner of the goal and was subsequently dogpiled by his teammates.
“Before, one of the guys on the team was like, “˜If you don’t celebrate afterwards, I’m going to tackle you,’ so that’s what happened. I didn’t celebrate so they tackled me,” Chavez said.
Tackling was a common theme throughout the game, but not for reasons as celebratory as what Chavez described. Oregon State’s physicality extended beyond simply aggressive defense, as the team committed several hard fouls and was given three yellow cards.
The scariest incident came with just minutes left in the match, as an Oregon State player knocked Williams to the ground after play had been stopped. Williams responded with a shove as tempers flared.
“There’s moments like that one the field, then once the game is over, there’s no real animosity towards them, at least on our side,” Williams said.
But after strong fouls and three consecutive close games between them, Chavez said there is bitterness between the two teams.
“There’s always been, I feel like. Every time we play, it’s always a great game, it’s always fun, but you can for sure say there’s some bad blood,” Chavez said.
UCLA’s next opponent will be Washington (6-3-2, 1-0-1), but some unusual scheduling will give them an extra day’s rest before Monday’s game.
“We always give it our all, but sometime the Sunday games are really sluggish, especially after a game like this where we play a lot of minutes and it’s really physical. Having that extra day is pretty huge,” Williams said.