For the second time in a week, a UCLA men’s soccer match against Cal was decided in the final minutes of play.
Last Thursday, redshirt freshman forward Blayne Martinez was the hero for the Bruins, scoring the winning goal in the final moments of regulation.
But it was the Golden Bears’ turn for a late-game celebration this time, as a goal from forward Christian Thierjung in the 84th minute put Cal (5-6-2, 1-4-1 Pac-12) ahead in its 2-1 victory over No. 24 UCLA (7-5-1, 3-3-0). This marks the second loss in a row for the Bruins, their first losing streak in conference play.
“Last week we won two seconds before the end. We tried to dominate this game,” said senior midfielder Felix Vobejda. “(Tonight) it got a little rougher, both teams were pushing it all to win.”
UCLA came close to scoring on multiple occasions in the first half – including a breakaway shot in the 19th minute from junior forward Seyi Adekoya that deflected off of the right goalpost – but could not capitalize on any of their attempts.
It was not until the second half that the Bruins began to gain momentum.
In the 67th minute, Martinez passed from inside the box to Vobejda, who shot the ball cleanly past Cal’s goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to put UCLA up 1-0.
“In the second half we were able to possess the ball and move it forward,” said sophomore midfielder Jackson Yueill. “This eventually led to Felix being able to get up higher and created space for him.”
But the Bruins’ lead was short-lived.
Less than 10 minutes later, in the 75th minute, Vobejda’s clearing attempt on a corner kick from the Bears’ midfielder Aravind Sivakumar bounced directly to Jose Carrera-Garcia. The Cal midfielder proceeded to score the tying goal on a short shot that bounced past UCLA freshman goalkeeper Kevin Silva.
“The equalizer was pretty unfortunate,” Vobejda said. “My clearance didn’t work one hundred percent right, and they scored the one-one.”
Despite their offensive push, the Bruins were unable to put anything past Klinsmann. A shot each from Yueill and redshirt junior midfielder Brian Iloski were both saved.
With only six minutes remaining in the second period, Carrera-Garcia sent a through ball down the center of the field to Thierjung, whose long shot scored the winning goal for the Bears.
“Tonight was a game we should’ve won,” said UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo. “Us losing tonight puts us in a really tough spot for the conference.”
With only five games remaining in the regular season, UCLA resides in third place in the Pac-12 standings. They will face No. 12 Stanford (8-2-4, 5-0-1) at home Sunday.