The Bruins came away with the victory, but not before losing their starting goalkeeper.
UCLA men’s soccer (3-2-0) won 4-2 over CSUN (4-1-1), handing the Matadors their first defeat of the season Sunday night. In the 85th minute, sophomore goalkeeper Justin Garces went down in the Bruins’ penalty box after colliding with an opponent while attempting to catch a ball.
Garces would eventually be carted off by paramedics, which coach Ryan Jorden said was just precautionary.
“I’ve been saying since the start of the year that (Garces) is the best goalkeeper in the country and I don’t think there is much debate to that,” said junior forward Milan Iloski.
Through the first half, Garces didn’t tally a save, and the period ended with the two teams tied at one goal apiece. Early on, the Bruins pressured the Matadors’ defense and largely controlled possession in the first 10 minutes of regulation.
Garces and the Bruins’ backline were heavily involved in maintaining possession, oftentimes starting attacks with balls played up from the backfield.
“That was our gameplan,” said redshirt senior defender Matthew Powell. “We were very fine with (Garces) keeping the ball in between our two center backs and moving the ball around their forward and attacking midfield until we find a hole to push the ball through.”
Iloski put the Bruins up early in the 14th minute of the game with his sixth goal of the season. The Bruins built up an attack on the left side of the Matadors’ penalty box to start the opportunity. That play was broken up, but after an unsuccessful clearance by CSUN, Iloski took a touch off his chest, shook a defender and slotted a right-footed strike into the goal.
“It’s been a good start for me and the team in scoring goals,” Iloski said. “If we possess the ball, they can’t score on us. Dominating with the ball is something we take pride in and it helps us defensively (in times) even when we don’t have the ball.”
The Matadors brought the match level in the 29th minute with a goal from CSUN forward Daniel Trejo. One-on-one with Garces, Trejo slipped a low shot between the legs of the outstretched Bruin goalkeeper to tally his sixth goal of the season.
In the second half, UCLA went on to score two unanswered goals, putting the Bruins up 3-1. In the 54th minute, Iloski scored his second goal of the game off an assist from sophomore midfielder Riley Ferch.
Iloski has now tallied seven goals in five games played.
“(Iloski) will be the first person to tell you that it requires the team getting him into good positions to score,” Jorden said. “When goal scorers score, they are most pleased with those who are behind them because they know that those players are the ones who provide those opportunities.”
The Bruins struck again nine minutes later. This time, Iloski picked up an assist on a goal by sophomore midfielder Cody Sundquist. Passing the ball from the left side, Iloski’s pass found Sundquist who dribbled, shot and scored his first goal of the 2019 season.
The Matadors struck back, however, as Trejo notched his second goal of the game and put CSUN within one goal of the Bruins.
The one-goal deficit was soon back to two when junior midfielder Eric Iloski found the back of the Matadors’ net in the 83rd minute.
Then in the 84th minute Garces went down.
In to replace him was redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Douglas, but CSUN did not register any more attempts on goal in the final moments of the game.
“Missing him will be huge and it will hurt us tremendously, but we have a great goalkeeper in (Douglas) who is ready and has been waiting for his moment,” Milan Iloski said. “He will have to step up while (Garces) is out.”