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Stanford men’s soccer reigns in Pac-12, but UCLA hopeful approaching home games

Sophomore defender Brandon Terwege has started every game for UCLA men’s soccer this season, helping his team record three clean sheets. He has had one shot on goal in 789 minutes played this season. (Isa Saalabi/Daily Bruin)

By Matthew Kenney

Oct. 2, 2018 1:35 am

After the first week of conference play, the Pac-12 standings have already taken a familiar shape – everybody is looking up at Stanford.

UCLA men’s soccer (5-4, 1-1) split its first two conference games with a 2-1 win at California (5-3-2, 1-1) on Thursday and a 3-0 loss at Stanford (5-1-3, 2-0) on Sunday. The Bruins’ winless drought against the Cardinal hit five years and left Stanford as the only Pac-12 team to go 2-0 in the first week.

The Bruins’ eight Pac-12 titles are the most in conference history, but the Cardinal have gone 30-3-7 against the Pac-12 to top the conference the past four years. Stanford has also won the past three national championships.

Coach Jorge Salcedo said Thursday after the win over Cal that the Bruins are focused on taking back that top spot from Stanford.

“They have obviously had a lot of success the past few years,” Salcedo said. “We take great pride in our conference. They’ve been the top dogs, and we want to be the top dog in the conference. We’re going to fight tooth and nail … to be the team that gets them solved.”

The two teams made history for different reasons last season. UCLA finished with its worst record since the Pac-12 was created going 7-10-1, while Stanford’s record of 19-2-2 was its Pac-12 best.

The Cardinals also swept the season series, including a 1-0 victory at Drake Stadium.

“Last year, Stanford beat us at home and won the Pac-12,” said sophomore defender Brandon Terwege. “I think we still have that in the back of our minds – the disappointment that we felt the last time.”

Stanford has still not found its footing in the national rankings this year, despite sitting atop the conference early on. The Cardinal are currently outside this year’s top 25 after ending last year as the No.1-ranked team in the country.

Salcedo said Sunday that all six teams in the Pac-12 are looking more vulnerable than in years past, describing the Pac-12 as a “dogfight.”

“The conference this year is going to be really tight,” Salcedo said. “Coming on the road and winning one game and losing the second is not what we had hoped. But our conference is going to be a battle from beginning to end for every team.”

The Bruins are just two wins away from matching their win total from last year halfway through the season. Sophomore forward Milan Iloski said he is optimistic about the team’s chances as long as they play to their potential.

“If we come out, apply ourselves and have the right mindset heading into it, I think that this team is going to achieve great things this Pac-12 season,” Iloski said.

UCLA’s next two games are both at home, against Washington and Oregon State. Salcedo said Sunday these home games will be critical in determining who wins the Pac-12.

“You have to win your home games and hope to win some of the road matches,” Salcedo said. “We’re going to go home, regroup, and prepare for a good Washington team on Thursday.”

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Matthew Kenney | Alumnus
Kenney joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the baseball, softball, men's soccer, women's soccer, track and field and cross country beats.
Kenney joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2017 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the baseball, softball, men's soccer, women's soccer, track and field and cross country beats.
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