There were plenty of chances. However, as has been the case all season, the UCLA men’s soccer team simply could not figure it out when it mattered.
UCLA struggled to finish Sunday night against No. 11-seed Seattle in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing 1-0 to conclude the 2015 season with a record of 11-9-1.
The final loss came against a staunch opponent in Seattle. The Redhawks defeated a pair of UCLA’s Pac-12 foes – Washington and Oregon State – earlier this season, results which gave them a top-16 seed for the tournament.
“It’s extremely disappointing to lose and for the season to be over,” said UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo. “In playoff games you have to play a complete, 90-minute match to win and advance. We played a good second half, but it wasn’t enough.”
The lone Seattle goal came in the first half off of a defensive miscommunication between redshirt senior defender Edgar Contreras and redshirt junior goalkeeper Juan Cervantes.
“Unfortunately, their forward steps in and gets to the ball first and we give up a bad goal,” Salcedo said of the game’s lone tally.
The second half was more encouraging from UCLA, despite its inability to put the ball across the goal line.
“We had a good second half and created several good opportunities,” Salcedo said. “We were in control of the game … and they were trying to play on the counter.”
Much of the Bruins’ frustration stemmed from the play of Seattle’s goalkeeper, redshirt senior Shane Haworth, who received praise from Salcedo.
“Their goalkeeper made some big saves,” Salcedo said. “He had some crucial plays that he made that were the difference in the game.”
If the Bruins were to ever score, it would have been halfway through the second half. Sophomore forward Abu Danladi mustered up a shot that was saved by Haworth – the chance sparked a flurry of UCLA activity in Seattle’s half of the field, but the Bruins could not convert.
About 10 minutes later, in the 75th minute, freshman midfielder Jackson Yueill rocketed a long-distance shot that hit off of the bar, sailing high and out of play.
In desperation, the Bruins flooded the Seattle half of the field in the last five minutes in an attempt to find an equalizer. Nothing came to fruition, however, save for a shot that went high from junior defender Nathan Smith. UCLA put as many crosses as were possible into Seattle’s box, but could not convert.
“It’s not only disappointing that we couldn’t score, but then we give up a bad goal and that ends our season,” Salcedo said. “At the end of the playoffs, there’s only gonna be one team that’s happy and unfortunately it’s not us this year.”
Compiled by Phil Share, Bruin Sports contributor.