The Bruins are about to hit the road for a three-game away stretch – but they won’t travel very far to meet their first opponent.
UCLA men’s soccer (2-2-0) will head up the I-405 freeway to take on California State University, Northridge (4-0-1) in a nonconference matchup Sunday night.
“In soccer terms, it’s a local derby,” said coach Ryan Jorden. “It’s always exciting to play in a game that has a lot of competitive level to it. They are always organized, talented, (and they will be) a challenging team.”
The Matadors will come into Sunday’s game undefeated five games into the season, their most recent win coming Thursday over No. 8 Washington. Forward Johnny Rodriguez put CSUN up early, scoring two unanswered goals in the first half, leading CSUN to a 3-1 victory.
In their loss to No. 6 Georgetown on Monday, the Bruins allowed five goals – the highest scoring output by a Bruin opponent since UCLA lost 5-1 to Stanford in 2017. Sophomore midfielder Cody Sundquist said the Bruins’ match against CSUN will be an opportunity for UCLA to bounce back from Georgetown’s barrage of goals.
“Obviously, there are mixed emotions about how last weekend went,” Sundquist said. “We played very well (Friday), defeating the defending national champion Maryland. We didn’t perform the way we wanted to (against Georgetown) so we are excited to prove (Monday’s loss) was just a fluke.”
In this week’s United Soccer Coaches poll, CSUN received more votes than any other program ranked outside the top-25 with 53. Jorden said his team will have to focus on attacking CSUN’s backline, if they are to knock off the Matadors.
“We are working on and maturing the mentality of constantly getting into an attacking mindset,” Jorden said. “As we continue to grow our team this year, we (need to understand) how to stay switched on with that sort of intensity.”
UCLA has found the back of the net at least once in each of its games this season. Junior forward Milan Iloski leads the team with five goals in four games played. Iloski’s five goals are already more than his career best of three goals in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.Through Sept. 12, he is just one goal off the national lead.
Sunday’s match against CSUN will mark the Bruins’ last nonconference matchup before Pac-12 action begins Sept. 19 with UCLA traveling up to Oregon State.
“We are trying to grow in every area that we can so that we are 100% ready to go when conference play comes around,” Sundquist said. “It will be a good last learning experience for us. We’re going to try and improve on everything – pressing, moving the ball around, attacking, scoring goals – everything (that relates to) the brand of soccer that we are trying to play this year.”
Kickoff against the Matadors is set for 6 p.m.