UCLA men’s soccer beats No. 2 Oregon State in penultimate game of season
UCLA men’s soccer players embrace each other after the game following a win over No. 2 Oregon State on Sunday afternoon. The team secured its highest-ranked victory of the season in its last home game of the year. (Kyle Kotanchek/Daily Bruin)
|No. 2 Oregon State||2|
By Lexi Grimes
Nov. 8, 2021 12:21 a.m.
This post was updated Nov. 8 at 1:27 a.m.
Constantinos Michaelides hadn’t scored a goal all season.
But in his final home game of the 2021 season, the junior defender had the first brace of his career to push UCLA men’s soccer (9-6-1, 4-4-1 Pac-12) past No. 2 Oregon State (12-2-2, 7-1-1) on Sunday afternoon by a score of 3-2. The win marks the Bruins’ third ranked victory of the season and was the first conference loss for the Beavers.
Michaelides said his performance was especially emotional because of a recent family tragedy.
“I was waiting for them for a long time now,” Michaelides said. “It was a pretty emotional time too because my grandfather that I was really close with – he passed away last month. My two goals are dedicated to him.”
At the beginning of the game, both teams handled long possessions before Oregon State took the first shot of the game in the 17th minute. The Beavers quickly followed with two more shot attempts within the next minute – one of which was saved by freshman goalkeeper Nate Crockford, who was making his first career start because of an injury to senior goalkeeper Justin Garces.
UCLA recorded its first and only shot of the half in the 24th minute when redshirt freshman midfielder Tucker Lepley received the ball across the box. Lepley was unable to convert, and the Bruins were kept off the scoreboard in the first 45 minutes.
Despite Oregon State outshooting UCLA 3 to 1, the Beavers were also unable to score in the first half.
Senior forward Kevin Diaz said the team had a more defensive mindset during the first half but came out of the break with increased offensive intensity.
“(In the) first half, the game plan was just to tire them out and keep moving the ball side to side,” Diaz said. “In the second half, it was just all about mentality and getting after them.”
The Bruins’ shift in game plan resulted in the first goal of the game minutes into the second half. In the 47th minute, Michaelides struck the ball past Beaver goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez into the bottom left corner off an assist from junior midfielder Riley Ferch and sophomore defender Tommy Silva. The score was the first of the season for Michaelides.
Michaelides was able to find the back of the net again in the 59th minute to secure the first multi-goal performance of his three years with the Bruins.
Coach Ryan Jorden attributed the team’s quick success in the second half to a change in tempo.
“We were moving the ball with tempo, and the goal comes because we had tempo in the play,” Jorden said.
After the Beavers were able to connect on one of their shot attempts to cut their deficit to one in the 65th minute, the Bruins had a chance to extend the lead again in the 79th minute. Diaz took a shot on goal that hit the right woodwork and rebounded directly to Lepley, but Lepley was once again unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
However, later in the game, Lepley was able to find Diaz on a cross-box pass that resulted in the Bruins’ third goal of the game. Oregon State scored one final time in the 89th minute, but it proved to be too little, too late as UCLA hung on for the victory.
Diaz said for the seven seniors on the team – who were honored during the halftime Senior Night ceremony – winning their very last game at Wallis Annenberg Stadium was a satisfying experience.
“I was getting a little emotional before the game because I’ve been here my whole life,” Diaz said. “To be leaving this school is heartbreaking, but I loved every minute of it. And to get a goal in the last game – it felt amazing.”
With the win, the Bruins are now 3-3 against ranked opponents this season, with the Beavers tied for UCLA’s highest ranked opponent. Jorden said the victory will provide the Bruins with momentum as they finish off their season and potentially head into the NCAA tournament.
“You get a confidence boost from the fact that you’ve just played and beaten a very, very good team,” Jorden said. “We’ve got to have a great week of preparation to go play a good team that has been in the top 25 on the road.”
UCLA will face San Diego State on the road in its last game of the regular season Friday.