UCLA men’s soccer (3-3) will be entering Pac-12 conference play with an even record following Sunday night’s 2-1 victory against crosstown neighbor Cal State Northridge (5-4).
Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the No.8 Clemson Tigers (7-1), the Bruins fell behind early to the CSUN Matadors. In the 17th minute, CSUN freshman forward Daniel Trejo put his name on the score sheet when he connected with junior forward Michael Flores for the game’s first goal.
“I thought that we were better the first 16 minutes of the game,” said UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo. “They score a goal that was a little bit of a deflection but we got caught out.”
The Bruins responded just five minutes later.
UCLA senior forward Santiago Herrera scored off a shot to the lower-right corner of the frame after a lead pass from freshman midfielder Eric Iloski.
“It was an important moment for me,” said Herrera. “Because I spent too many games without a goal, seeing a goal the game before conference play is huge for me and the team.”
The Bruins’ defense played a major role in the game, allowing only five total shots. In addition, it forced a shutout of CSUN in the second half.
“I thought we had good control of the game in the first half,” Salcedo said. “We have a really good defensive midfielder. Our captain (junior defender) Eric Holt had a very solid game, breaking up a lot of plays. Our two center backs dealt well with the game. I don’t really think (CSUN) created too many clear chances in the game.”
Redshirt senior midfielder Brian Iloski scored the game-winning goal in the 51st minute when he converted from the penalty spot after a fellow teammate was tripped inside the 18-yard box.
“It’s a huge responsibility, a penalty kick,” said Brian Iloski. “It can win or lose a game for you, so I take pride in that.”
The Bruins were able to produce 11 total shots and pressured Matador goalkeeper Henrik Regitnig, who logged four saves on the night.
CSUN’s only shot on goal was converted for a goal as its other chances never tested UCLA’s sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Silva.
In the final 20 minutes, however, the Bruins showed signs of fatigue as the Matadors generated three shots and one corner kick during the span.
“We want to clean up the last 20 minutes of the game there,” said Brian Iloski. “It was a little sketchy at the end, so we want to play the full 90.”
Finished with their nonconference schedule, the Bruins will face their first Pac-12 opponent Thursday when they will host the California Golden Bears (5-2).
“Our nonconference schedule was probably one of the most difficult in the whole country,” Salcedo said. “We are battle-tested now. Now comes an extremely important portion of the season.”