The dark red and white horizontal stripes of the Stanford uniform made it look as though the team was wearing prison garb. But while Stanford may have looked like the prisoners, it was UCLA who tried to make an escape.
Thwarting Stanford’s many golden opportunities throughout the game, No. 5 UCLA overcame fatigue and sloppy play to escape with the double overtime win off redshirt senior midfielder Fernando Monge’s golden goal.
Redshirt senior defender Chris Cummings lofted a long pass to Monge, who got past the lone defender and bounced the shot over Stanford’s goalkeeper for the game-winning goal.
“Incredible. Incredible. It was one of the best goals that you’ll ever see. Here we are in double overtime; Fernando, he’s touched every blade of grass on the soccer field tonight. Against Washington, I thought he was our best player, and for him to score was absolutely fitting,” said coach Jorge Salcedo.
UCLA led for most of the game after junior forward Victor Chavez’s goal in the 15th minute.
While it was UCLA (12-2-2, 7-1-0 Pac-12) who led at halftime, Stanford played the better half, repeatedly breaking down UCLA’s defense and giving the home team several scares. Stanford (7-8-1, 3-4-1) had two goals negated after offside calls and had several excellent opportunities with penalty kicks from just outside the box, yet UCLA was able to escape the threats unscathed.
Stanford finally converted on a goal without going offside, lining a shot from the center of the box past diving redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Earl Edwards.
“(After Stanford scored), we wanted to get back and get that second goal again. We never want to be tied with an opponent. It’s just an adrenaline rush actually. You want to get back into it. You want to get the ball going. It really pissed me off to be honest,” Monge said.
Playing again after just three days off against a well-rested Stanford team, UCLA was competing not just against Stanford but also fatigue.
“Tonight was a gut check. We were exhausted going into the game. We didn’t want to make excuses going into the game, but the reality is, we were very tired,” Salcedo said.
“It was our third game in less than seven days. It just made it a big challenge for us. (Stanford was) playing for their lives, they were well rested. We weren’t sharp today and quite frankly our performance wasn’t great, but we found a way to win.”
The lack of sharpness was evident on offense, where the Bruins struggled to establish a rhythm.
“We had some moments here or there where we got them moving around and broke them down, but it was a tribute to them. They did well. In the end, we broke them down twice and that’s all that matters,” said senior defender Matt Wiet.
Yet despite their struggles on both sides of the ball and the constant threat Stanford posed, UCLA managed to emerge victorious. With the season nearing its end, the Bruins won’t spend long enjoying this victory before getting back to work.
“This game now puts us in a chance to win the Pac-12 on Sunday (against Cal), so that’s going to be huge for us coming on Sunday,” Wiet said.