The Bruins have found their way in conference play.
Now there’s just one Pac-12 team left to face – San Diego State (4-8, 0-4 Pac-12).
After two consecutive shutout losses to the first two conference opponents it faced, UCLA men’s soccer (5-5, 2-2) flipped the script and snagged two shutout wins of its own against Oregon State (4-8, 1-3) and No. 19 Washington (9-3, 2-1) over the weekend.
The Bruins haven’t logged back-to-back victories at any other point this season, and redshirt sophomore Blayne Martinez said he’s hoping they can maintain that momentum for Sunday’s match.
“We’re really busting our asses for each other,” Martinez said. “We had a rough start in the beginning, but we’ve bounced back with the two wins this weekend.”
Despite owning the worst record in the Pac-12, the Aztecs are now the only team that stands between the Bruins and a winning record – something they haven’t had since immediately after their very first game of the year.
“We’re taking it very seriously,” said freshman forward Milan Iloski. “We’re looking at San Diego State as a real and serious opponent. It’s going to be a difficult match and we’re going to try our best to get the three points.”
The freshman had a major hand in the Bruins’ two-win weekend, scoring his first-ever collegiate goal against the Beavers and assisting the game-winner against the Huskies.
“In our nonconference games we played well, but we weren’t able to get the points,” Iloski said. “I think the biggest thing now is just getting the points, not so much playing (good soccer).”
Both he and Martinez said UCLA is now focused on winning its upcoming matches one game at a time. A big part of the team’s wins this year have been its defense, and San Diego State has been shut out four games in a row.
“The reason we fell behind early (in the year) was because the communication wasn’t as solid as it needed to be,” said sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Silva. “Once Oregon came along we just did things well in the back and created our chances up front. I was pretty much calling out orders the whole game … to make sure everyone was in position.”
Silva added that the more shutouts his team gets, the better he feels about its chances of winning once the postseason arrives.