After splitting the two Bay Area matches last weekend, UCLA men’s soccer (6-4, 2-1 Pac-12) got its fourth shutout of the season against Washington (5-5, 0-2) in a 1-0 victory.
Thursday was the Bruins’ first shutout in conference play and freshman defender AJ Vasquez credited the defensive performance to the entire starting nine, rather than just the three starting defenders.
“When we stick to the idea of ‘We’re going to defend as a team and we’re not letting (the opponent) score on us,’ they’re not going to score,” Vasquez said. “It was a collective effort and we showed that when we play as a team, we have the most talented squad.”
Offensively, UCLA had six of their seven shots on target in the first half.
The first chance for the Bruins came in the form of a low line drive by redshirt senior midfielder Joab Santoyo in the seventh minute but the shot was turned back by Husky goalkeeper Saif Kerawala.
In the 20th minute, the Bruins were awarded a penalty kick after sophomore forward Milan Iloski was dragged down trying to connect on a header in the box. Sophomore forward Santiago Herrera had the chance to put up his second goal of the season, but his shot went wide right.
On the ensuing possession, the Bruins saw themselves in a two-on-one fast break. The Washington defender was called for a hand ball, which led to a UCLA free kick just outside of the box.
“The first half was one of our best first-half performances of the season,” said coach Jorge Salcedo. “The mentality and the attitude to create dangerous moments I was really pleased with. I was really proud of the fact that we had control of the game and that we came home after losing our second game in the Bay Area and winning this first Pac-12 game here at home.”
Iloski took the ball in the 22nd minute and found the back of the net for the first and only goal of the game.
“I remembered on the penalty kick prior that the goalie cheated over, so on my run up, I noticed he was cheating over again behind the wall,” Iloski said. “I just decided to hit it low and hard on the goalie side and it worked out.”
New faces emerged in the starting lineup for the Bruins as well. Sophomores midfielder Andrew Paoli and Iloski made their first and second starts of the season, respectively. Freshman midfielder Matt Hundley and senior midfielder Anderson Asiedu came off the bench Thursday night.
“I have a lot of confidence in a lot of guys that can step on the field and for us to start Paoli, his first start in his first Pac-12 game, shows the depth that we have,” Salcedo said. “We’re pretty banged up, Santiago (Herrera) has been out the last three games and (junior forward) Mohammed (Kamara) has been out as well, but today our depth showed in the first half.”
The second and final match of UCLA’s brief homestand is Sunday against Oregon State at 12 p.m.