With the Pac-12 season in full swing, No. 24 UCLA men’s soccer (7-4-1, 3-2-0 Pac-12) will face Cal (4-6-2, 0-4-1 Pac-12) for the second time after the Bruins defeated the Bears 4-3 a week ago in Berkeley.
UCLA began its run against Cal with an away win, in contrast to losing last year’s away matchup 4-3. All-time the Bruins lead the series 43-15-6 with the last-second heroics of last week’s victory.
“I feel confident. We had a good game last Thursday against (Cal) and scored some nice goals,” said redshirt junior midfielder Brian Iloski. “So now it’s just a matter of pulling it all together offensively and defensively as a team.”
The strategy for the Bruins throughout their nonconference and conference season has been to build up from their defense, utilizing their midfield to help work the ball up the field and connect with their players on the wing.
This allows their wing players to be able to drive down the end line to either set up goal scoring opportunities for other players in the box, or take the few chances they have in the box themselves.
Although the Bruins’ strategy may stay consistent during the course of their conference play, coach Jorge Salcedo believes things can still be improved.
“The goals we let up (in the last game), one came from a throw-in, one came from a corner kick and one came from a free kick. We didn’t focus and concentrate enough in those moments of the game,” Salcedo said. “Even when the ball is out of bounds, we still must focus in order to have a high level of intensity in those last couple moments of the game.”
After going on its longest road trip for this season, UCLA is looking forward to returning to their home turf for a three-game homestand.
“It’s always nice being in a familiar territory, hopefully we can get a big enough crowd to rattle them,” said sophomore midfielder Jackson Yueill. “Playing at home will be really helpful for us.”