The Bruins will kick off the second half of their Pac-12 schedule on the road against a pair of teams they beat in the first half.
UCLA men’s soccer (9-4, 4-1 Pac-12) will head to the Pacific Northwest and play Washington (8-7, 3-4) on Thursday and Oregon State (8-4-3, 4-2-1) on Sunday to begin their slate of conference rematches. The Huskies and Beavers both fell 1-0 to the Bruins when they visited Wallis Annenberg Stadium earlier this season.
Sophomore defender Brandon Terwege said UCLA expects its conference opponents to pose a bigger challenge this time around.
“It’s hard to win on the road anywhere you go, and we know that both these teams will be looking for revenge,” Terwege said. “We just have to go in with the mindset of being willing to battle for all 90 minutes and closing them out like we did in the previous games.”
The Huskies outshot the Bruins in the first match, including a 7-2 margin in the second half. Washington also had six corner kicks to UCLA’s three.
Coach Jorge Salcedo said that one of the advantages of playing a team for the second time is reviewing film and noting areas of improvement before the rematch.
“You get tangible examples of the way teams play and learn from them,” Salcedo said. “There were moments in the game against Washington where they had more control of the game than we did in the second half, so we can go back and really hone in on why those moments of momentum for them were created and try to negate it in the road game against them.”
Washington’s postseason chances are in jeopardy despite it making the tournament the past two years. With its 3-1 loss to Stanford on Sunday, Washington has fallen to fourth in the conference with just three Pac-12 games remaining in its schedule.
“Washington is fighting for their lives this weekend,” Salcedo said. “They know that every game is really big for them to have a better RPI, to have a better body of work going into the postseason. Our RPI is a good one, and so they know it’s a huge game for them to try and put themselves back in the playoff picture.”
Meanwhile, Oregon State has won three of its four games since falling to UCLA on Oct. 7, including dealing Stanford its first and only conference loss so far. The Beavers leapfrogged the Bruins in the standings last week with their win over the California Golden Bears.
Oregon State has never finished higher than fifth in the conference, accumulating a conference record of 14-30-6 since 2013. However, sophomore forward Santiago Herrera said that the Bruins are only focused on this year’s Beavers team, which is undefeated at home against conference opponents.
“We try to always look at teams as a new challenge,” Herrera said. “We don’t look at (Oregon State) and say, ‘Last year they were bad.’ They’re a new team this year, and they’re good.”
In conference rankings, UCLA sits in third place between Washington and Oregon State. However, if the Bruins can complete both season sweeps this weekend, they will create some separation from their Northwest rivals.
“This is probably our biggest trip of the season,” Herrera said. “We won the first two games against these teams, but these games are at their home so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us. The teams are aware of us and know that we’re a team looking for a championship, so they’re definitely going to give us their best.”
UCLA will square off against Washington on Thursday at 8 p.m., followed by a matchup with Oregon State on Sunday at 2 p.m.