On a night when the seniors were celebrated, and the Bruins had a chance to pull off a season sweep, they failed to score on any of their chances and pick up a win in the last game of the regular season.
UCLA men’s soccer (10-8, 5-5 Pac-12) ended the regular season with a 1-0 loss against San Diego State (7-10-1, 2-8-0) – just the second conference win for the Aztecs.
“It was one of those games where we had to win no matter what,” said senior midfielder Kike Poleo. “With the rankings we have and with the rankings that San Diego State has, this game definitely hurts.”
The lone goal of the game came in the 40th minute off a penalty kick by Aztec forward Damian German after the Bruins were booked with a foul in the box.
UCLA had two goals that were taken back because of offsides calls.
In the 37th minute, the Bruins looked to have struck first when senior defender Erik Holt found the back of the net, but the goal was brought back after UCLA was ruled offsides.
Coach Jorge Salcedo said that the replay seemed to show Holt’s shot wasn’t offsides, but the Bruins still had numerous opportunities to find that first goal.
“You can’t blame the game on the referees, it wasn’t the referee that missed the chances, it wasn’t them that missed the penalty kick,” Salcedo said. “This one is on us, we tried to find out first goal which could’ve lead to a second or third, but we just didn’t convert.”
The other opportunity occurred in the 59th minute when Poleo found himself one-on-one with Aztec goalkeeper Cameron Hogg off a pass from the middle.
Poleo was able to beat the goalie and trickle the ball into the net, but another offsides call nullified the goal.
On the night, UCLA had 17 shots, seven of which were on target.
Five minutes into the second half, San Diego State’s Miles Stray was issued his second yellow card after arguing a call, giving UCLA a one-man advantage for the remainder of the game.
The Bruins put up 11 shots after Strav’s ejection, including a penalty kick in the 84th minute.
San Diego State committed a foul in the box and sophomore forward Milan Iloski was given the chance to put UCLA on the scoreboard, but his shot sailed over the net.
The six seniors were honored Thursday night before the game, but after the loss, Poleo said that he could only think about the result of the game.
“The ceremony was bittersweet,” Poleo said. “It’s kinda crazy how the four years flew by and it was good having my friends and family here, but you can’t not think about the game.”
The Bruins will find out if they make the NCAA tournament Monday. Salcedo said despite a disappointing conference season, his team still deserves to be in the postseason.
“We just have to hope that our body of work throughout the year and our strength of schedule is enough to get us in the tournament,” Salcedo said. “I still believe that this is a tournament team and a team that can make a run when we get some things right, but time will tell.”