Wednesday, May 27

Men’s soccer seeks success against San Diego in break from conference games

Freshman forward Jefferson Alade made his first career start for UCLA men's soccer in its last game against California on Oct. 13. Alade said the Bruins' ability to avoid conceding early goals will be important in getting the result against San Diego on Thursday. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

Men's soccer

San Diego
Thursday, 7 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
Pac-12 Networks

The Bruins have never fallen to the Toreros in a regular-season home match dating back to 1980.

In a break from conference action, UCLA men’s soccer (5-5-2, 1-3-1 Pac-12) will face San Diego (9-1-1, 1-0-0 West Coast Conference) in its 36th meeting of all time, as the two squads have seen each other every year since the 1997 season – except for the 2015 season.

San Diego enters Thursday having lost only one game in 11 played so far this season. Its most recent win came against San Francisco, with San Diego posting a 4-0 win Saturday. Before that fixture, San Diego took down then-No. 23 ranked West Virginia away from home, scoring four goals against the Mountaineers.

Freshman forward Jefferson Alade – who earned his first career start in UCLA’s last game against California – said the team still has room to grow and will be challenged by a San Diego squad that enters play with a strong record.

“We know there are things we need to do to improve our play,” Alade said. “Especially conceding goals early on, if we are able to fix that we will be able to play our kind of football.”

The Toreros have outscored opponents 24-7, averaging 13 shots per game. Meanwhile, the Bruins have conceded the most goals in the Pac-12 with 26 and average around 11 shots allowed per game.

San Diego forward Miguel Berry leads the Torero attack with 10 goals scored – just as many as the next four players on the team’s scoring leaderboard combined.

“They’ve had a really good year,” said coach Ryan Jorden. “We know some of the areas where we have to be a little bit better to come out on the right side of it. They’ve scored a lot of goals and have a number of guys who can score a lot of goals, so for us it’s making sure we can counteract what their threats are.”

After picking up a five-goal win against San Diego State on Oct. 6, UCLA has earned just four points from its five conference matches.

UCLA fell to Stanford on Oct. 10 after the Cardinal slotted home a goal in the final 10 minutes and tied with California on Oct. 13 despite jumping ahead twice in the opening half.

UCLA’s Pac-12 opponents – Stanford, Oregon State, California, Washington and San Diego State – have scored a combined 38 goals during conference play. And with UCLA having allowed 13 since the start of Pac-12 play, the Bruins have conceded 28% of all goals scored in the six-team conference.

“It’s taken us some time to learn (Jorden’s) method of playing,” said junior midfielder Eric Iloski. “But I think we’re starting to pick it up and are really close to being a top team.”

Away from home, the Toreros have picked up four wins in four games. For UCLA, the matchup with San Diego with be its sixth consecutive home match – UCLA has posted a 2-1-2 record so far in its five-game homestand to this point.

“A lot of what has to happen is our defensive shape and structure has to be strong,” Alade said. “Communication as a team, we need to help each other out and stop conceding easy goals. And just capitalizing on our chances, if we can do those few things we’ll be in a position to win (this) game.”

Assistant Sports editor

Tay is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. He was previously a reporter on the men's tennis beat.

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