Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Earl Edwards lay face down in the grass, with the goalposts rising up above him. Slowly he rolled himself over and got to his knees, head still held low. Just moments earlier, San Diego scored its fifth goal of the game with just 13 minutes left. For the Bruins, it meant they had 13 minutes to save their season.
Playing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, sixth-seeded UCLA was unable to crawl out of a three-goal hole, falling to San Diego (13-8-0) 5-2 on Sunday.
After hoisting the Pac-12 Championship trophy just nine days ago, UCLA’s season came to an abrupt end as the team’s defense, diminished by the absence of senior defender Matt Wiet because of illness, struggled to stop a relentless San Diego attack.
Edwards summed up the loss concisely.
“They had a great night and we had one of our worst nights.”
It wasn’t all bad for the Bruins, though. Things were looking up for UCLA after an early goal by senior forward Ryan Hollingshead put them ahead.
“At 1-0, I thought he had a chance to really put our foot on the gas and get after them in a way that maybe we could have ended the game in the first half by scoring a second or third goal, but unfortunately we let them back in the game,” said coach Jorge Salcedo.
UCLA (13-3-3, 8-1-1 Pac-12) was not without opportunities to mount a comeback, however. The Bruins were given several chances right in front of the goal, but could not find the net.
“We had easy opportunities and we haven’t made it easy for ourselves. So it’s unfortunate to not put that together at this last game, but that’s the way the cookie crumbled,” said senior midfielder Evan Raynr.
With their season cut short, the Bruins were visibly emotional following the loss.
“It’s not even about the game, because you know you win and you lose soccer games,” Raynr said. “I’m just overwhelmed with emotion just knowing that this is the last time I’ll play here with these guys, so I think that’s what’s getting me the most.”
While the postseason did not go as UCLA planned, the team is still able to take away some positives from the season as a whole.
“Right now, it’s safe to say it was bittersweet. To only lose two games in a season then to go out the way we did is disappointing,” Salcedo said.
“At some point we’ll look back and realize there were a lot of positives.”
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