Coach Ryan Jorden said he couldn’t have asked for a more exciting first weekend as the head coach of the Bruins.
In their opening weekend, the golden goal was both friend and foe for the Bruins as both games for UCLA men’s soccer (1-1-0) were pushed to extra time. In sudden death, the Bruins outlasted Northwestern (1-1-0) in a 1-0 win – extending the Bruins’ winning streak in the season opener to seven games – but came up short against No. 2 Indiana (2-0-0) in a 2-1 loss in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.
“We obviously had our hands full against two Big Ten teams and had a weekend where we got to learn a lot about our team,” Jorden said. “I thought (the matchup against the Hoosiers) was just a really good, high-level college soccer game, just wish it ended in our favor.”
After the Wildcats were unable to tally a single shot on goal in the first half, Northwestern registered seven on-target opportunities, five of them within the first 10 minutes of the second half. All were stopped by sophomore goalkeeper Justin Garces – good for a new career high for saves in a single game, surpassing his previous record of five.
Junior forward Milan Iloski’s golden goal ended the affair in the 95th minute.
A series of lateral passes in front of the box allowed sophomore midfielder Riley Ferch the opportunity to cross a ball into the box from the deep right corner. Ferch’s delivery forced a defender to mark both Iloski and redshirt senior forward Blayne Martinez. Iloski saw the advantage, got a look in the six-yard box and struck the back of the net with his left foot.
“It was really just a great team goal and it was the end result of unselfish play throughout the game from the back to the front,” Iloski said. “We had a lot of opportunities in that game that we missed out on and that’s something we have to work on to make it easier for ourselves.”
Entering Monday, Indiana had won three of its last four regular season meetings against UCLA.
Thunder and lightning pushed the game against the Hoosiers from Sunday evening to Monday morning.
Junior midfielder Marcony Pimentel said he expected the field to be hard to play on after that kind of storm, but was surprised at how great the condition was.
“It was pretty awesome to be honest,” Pimentel said. “All the water damage from (the night before) was gone. The field was pretty slick which was great because we were able to move the ball around quickly and have more possessions throughout the game.”
UCLA got on the board first after Pimentel knocked in his first goal of the year, thanks to an Iloski assist.
Five minutes later, forward Victor Bezerra netted the equalizer for Indiana – UCLA’s first goal allowed after two exhibition games and a little more than three halves into the regular season.
It took two overtime periods to decide a winner. In the 104th minute, Indiana’s defender Jack Maher delivered the golden goal off a corner kick for the Hoosiers’ first win of the season.
Jorden said there were long spells throughout the game where UCLA looked like the better team. Despite the loss, Jorden said he’s proud of how the Bruins competed and is excited for what’s to come.
“We have areas we can continue to improve in to put ourselves in a position where we can dominate the match more at certain times and avoid situations where we concede goals,” Jorden said. “Those two things are a positive from a coaching standpoint because I’ve got a team that has a real appetite to win and for continuing to develop and grow.”