One more ride on the conference rollercoaster.
In the first round of conference play, UCLA men’s soccer (6-6-1, 3-2-0 Pac-12) dropped the first two games and took home slim wins in the final three – the team even pulled off an upset.
UCLA will first face Oregon State (5-10-0, 2-5-0) on Thursday and No. 23 Washington (10-5-1, 3-3-1) on Sunday.
“We can’t overlook anybody,” said redshirt sophomore defender Matthew Powell. “We have five games left and play some teams that are kind of already out of playoff contention but they still come to win.”
Both the Beavers and Huskies fell to the Bruins earlier this season. In their first meeting with Washington, Powell scored in overtime to give UCLA the win.
This time the match-ups are at home and Powell said the wide-open space of Drake Stadium will play to UCLA’s advantage, being that it isn’t as boxed in or as slick as Oregon State’s field.
The Beavers lack of offense will, too. The Beavers have recorded just two shutout wins and have been shutout seven times in their 15 games.
UCLA’s previous wins against Oregon State and Washington came in a streak that was punctuated by losses in important games.
That streak of four consecutive games without a loss came to an end in a 3-1 loss to San Diego.
“Last game we slipped up a little bit,” said redshirt sophomore forward Blayne Martinez regarding the loss to San Diego. “Offensively we just need to take more chances.”
In their last five games, the Bruins have logged a total of 76 shots, but just six of those ended up in the back of the net.
Though this Bruins’ team has been dangerous, both Martinez and Powell emphasized that the offense needs to be more willing to take chances.
“We just need to be a little more threatening and a little more ambitious,” Powell said.
The Huskies have fallen from their strong start to the season, having won just one of their last five games. But the Bruins will still have to contend with a defense that has allowed no more than two goals in that five-game span.
In addition to the Washington game being UCLA’s last home game of the season, redshirt senior Brian Iloski and senior Christian Chavez will be playing the final match of their UCLA careers at Drake stadium.
“It’s been a great four years and one quarter,” Iloski said. “Plenty of ups and downs, but I’m glad everything happened the way it did, and I’m really excited for the games this week.”