While UCLA football was busy breaking a losing tradition at Stanford Stadium, the Bruins at Wallis Annenberg Stadium weren’t able to escape their old trends.
After conceding two early goals in the second and third minutes, UCLA men’s soccer (5-6-2, 1-3-1 Pac-12) fell to San Diego (10-1-1, 1-0-0 West Coast Conference) by a score of 4-1 on Thursday night. The Bruins have now allowed a goal in the first five minutes in four of their 13 games.
“The team has to decide whether they want to compete from the beginning of the game,” said coach Ryan Jorden. “We conceded (two) goals in two minutes and six seconds. That tells me guys aren’t willing to go win a ball – trying to step into midfield, (trying) to do something physically to impose themselves on the game.”
Against Oregon State on Sept. 19, UCLA allowed the Beavers on the board in the third minute, and against Washington three days later, the Huskies found the back of the net before the first minute had elapsed.
Two weeks later, when the Bruins hosted the Aztecs on Oct. 6, San Diego State opened the scoring in the second minute.
On Thursday, San Diego forward Miguel Berry slotted an early chance into the bottom right corner of UCLA’s goal.
The Toreros struck again less than one minute later, when midfielder Alex Churness’ goal put San Diego up by two scores after less than three full minutes of play had elapsed.
The Toreros had a chance for their third goal of the night after they broke through the Bruin backline in the 11th minute. San Diego’s three-goal lead was denied, however, by UCLA sophomore goalkeeper Justin Garces.
The stop was Garces’ first save on the night. He went on to make four saves on the Toreros’ eight total shots on target.
“It’s just the mentality,” Garces said. “We just start off soft, start off weak, and we concede, so it’s about mentality from us, the backline, from the whole team.”
The Bruins clawed one goal back, courtesy of junior midfielder Marcony Pimentel’s 18th-minute score – his second of the season. Off a cross from freshman defender Constantinos Michaelides, Pimentel redirected the ball into the net, beating the recovering Torero goalkeeper.
But the Toreros went on to score two more goals on the night. Berry tallied his second goal of the game in the 34th minute, and Churness found the back of the net for his second goal in the 56th minute of regulation.
“It hurts a lot,” Pimentel said. “You give the team hope (by scoring) one goal, and you think you’re moving forward. When you (allow one) after that, it breaks you down mentally a bit.”
After San Diego had scored its third goal of the night, Pimentel said he encouraged his team to keep its morale high, despite the disparate scoreline.
“If a couple people leave their head hanging, it’s a chain reaction,” Pimentel said. “If you don’t show presence, you show you can’t keep going; you affect the emotional side of everyone else.”
UCLA has allowed an average of 2.31 goals per game, the worst in the Pac-12. It will face Washington – which leads the conference in goals scored – in a week’s time.