San Diego State 3
Behind the Score:
Goals scored by junior forward Reed Williams
Assists by senior midfielder/forward Ryan Hollingshead
Minutes left when UCLA scored the game-winning goal
It was a dire moment when UCLA men’s soccer lost last Monday. After a brief huddle with their coaches, the players quickly exited the field with their first Pac-12 loss in nearly two years heavy on their shoulders.
That weight was lifted on Friday as No. 5 UCLA got back on the winning track, outlasting San Diego State 4-3 in a tense back-and-forth match that wasn’t decided until the final few minutes.
The Bruins’ short-lived leads were just as slippery as the wet field. After an early goal in the sixth minute, UCLA (9-2-2, 4-1-0 Pac-12) was unable to hold onto the lead, surrendering the tying goal after redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Earl Edwards slipped on the slick grass. But coach Jorge Salcedo doesn’t place the blame on Edwards.
“If you score an early goal you oftentimes sit back and become a little bit complacent. You sit back and let the other team come to you a little bit and that’s unfortunately what we did,” Salcedo said.
“We scored an early goal and then really didn’t have the same edge that we had to start the match.”
That edge would return, however, as the Bruins regained the aggressiveness they showed at the start of the game.
“We talked about attacking quicker. Not sitting back as much. Just always keep attacking and try to get another goal,” said junior forward Reed Williams.
“We always felt like we were going to score another goal and attack them and that was our game plan.”
It seemed the Aztecs had the same idea. Their constant motor on offense kept UCLA’s defense on its heels as San Diego State (4-6-2, 0-4-1) took an astounding 27 shots and repeatedly tied the game whenever UCLA took a lead.
“They’re a very scrappy team. They never gave up and as a result, I think that’s how they got so many shots on goal. It’s tough playing against a competitive team like that,” said freshman midfielder/defender Grady Howe.
The high number of goals allowed and scored by the Bruins is an abnormality for a team that has made its mark this season with many low-scoring wins. But the Bruins are making the most of the unusual final score.
“(There was) some good finishing and some poor defending, but for us to score four goals on the road is a really positive thing,” Salcedo said.
UCLA now has a two-week break before its rematch against Oregon State on Oct. 26, and the Bruins are glad to have the time off.
“I’m really happy that we have this time. We’re going to be ready for our second half of conference play. It allows us to gain a little bit more fitness, a little bit more sharpness and to be fully healthy as a team,” Salcedo said.
Salcedo’s optimism about the final five games of the regular season is shared by his players.
“We’re getting our guys healthy up top and we’re starting to get to the point of the season where we all understand each other and are moving off the ball and stuff like that,” said redshirt senior midfielder/forward Fernando Monge.
“So it all kind of comes together around this time and I’m pretty excited, going forward, to see how it all works out.”