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No. 2 UCLA men’s soccer falters against New Mexico in season opener

Senior forward Evan Raynr maneuvers past New Mexico in the team’s season opener.

Men’s Soccer

New Mexico 3

Friday, 4:30 p.m.
College Park, Md.
No TV info

By Steven Covella

Aug. 27, 2012 4:06 a.m.

The UCLA men’s soccer team learned on Friday that it will take a lot more work to reach its 2011 form.

In its first game since it was eliminated from the 2011 College Cup, No. 2 UCLA men’s soccer fell at home, 3-2, to No. 6 New Mexico.

The Bruins were in a tough position because of their own sloppy passing, which led to fast breaks from the Lobos.

“We knew their only way of scoring on us was in set pieces or transition,” said redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Earl Edwards.

“So, we tried to deal with it as best we could and unfortunately lost sight of them a couple times.”

After a back-and-forth game, the winning New Mexico goal came in transition as the Lobos broke down the Bruin defense and put in a low cross past Edwards.

The goal looked familiar, as the Lobos spent the majority of the night capitalizing on Bruin turnovers.

Coach Jorge Salcedo noted that he wanted to see his players get a better handle on decision-making and holding onto the ball.

UCLA hopes to improve in these areas before playing Maryland and Virginia this week.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time for us to be as sharp as we need to be, and the only way to do it is to play games,” Salcedo said. “You can train it in training sessions, but you can never simulate matches and the speed of playing in matches.”

The most positive takeaway for the Bruins, coming out of their first game, was their success in the attacking third.

When UCLA did manage to push the ball past midfield, the team did cause some problems for New Mexico, especially when attacking from the outside ““ a strategy the team worked on specifically during practice.

“There’s a lot of space on the outsides, so when we get out there we want to cut inside and have (a teammate) overlapping, then we have so many options,” said senior midfielder/forward Ryan Hollingshead, who had some of his best runs of the game when attacking from the outside.

“When we’re running at them, and they’re back-pedaling, we have so many options to break them down.”

Hollingshead said the Bruins’ mistakes could, at least somewhat, be attributed to the nerves of a young team.

Three of UCLA’s Friday night starters were underclassmen, and multiple players were stepping into new starting roles.

“You could tell, some of the guys ““ younger guys ““ guys that have been getting their first starts … were just a bit anxious, nervous and afraid to keep the ball,” Hollingshead said.

“Some of it just takes time. Some of it just takes getting out on the field and realizing you can play in these big games.”

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Steven Covella
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