The announcer at Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium counted down the final seconds of regulation.
Scrambling, the Golden Bears took a corner kick from the right side of the pitch. The ball into the box was met by leaping California forward Simon Lekressner and nestled into the back of the UCLA net, equalizing the game at 3-3 with just three seconds of regulation to go.
The Bears’ last-second goal forced the game into two overtime periods, but neither team was able to score again, as UCLA men’s soccer (5-8-3, 1-5-2 Pac-12) tied with California (6-4-3, 2-2-2 ) for the second time this season.
Thursday’s result officially eliminated UCLA from a chance to earn an at-large bid into November’s NCAA tournament. Teams who receive a bid must post a winning percentage of at least .500, and with two games left in the season, the Bruins will officially finish their first season under coach Ryan Jorden with a losing record.
Except for the 2017 season under coach Jorge Salcedo, the Bruins have qualified for every NCAA tournament since 1983. Beginning in 1968, UCLA has made 44 NCAA tournament appearances, only missing out six times since that date.
California never saw the lead Thursday night, but managed to equalize after every UCLA goal, including a score by junior forward Milan Iloski in the 86th minute.
The goal was set up by sophomore midfielder Riley Ferch – who had come into the game less than a minute before. Ferch slipped a ball through the Bears’ backline, setting up Iloski’s 17th goal of the season, which put the Bruins up 3-2 with about four minutes to go.
Ferch’s assist was his ninth of the season, and Ferch tops both his team and the conference in that category.
Goals for UCLA also came in the eighth and 47th minutes and were scored by senior midfielder Alexis Triadis and junior midfielder Eric Iloski, respectively.
But on both occasions, the Bears managed to strike back. Two goals from forward Tommy Williamson nullified the Bruins’ first and second scores.
In the teams’ first meeting at Wallis Annenberg Stadium on Oct. 13, the Bears were also able to counter the Bruins’ opening two goals, and the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
This time, sophomore goalkeeper Justin Garces made a season-high 10 saves – including outstretched stops with his boot in the 34th and 56th minutes. In the 70th minute, Garces recorded another diving stop off California forward Alonzo Del Mundo’s shot to keep the Bruins ahead 2-1.
California peppered the UCLA goal with 13 shots on target and outshot the Bruins 28-12 overall.
With no chance to qualify for postseason play, the Bruins will round out their Bay Area road trip with a stop in Stanford to face off against the No. 5-ranked Cardinal on Sunday.