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Men’s soccer looks toward season with high hopes after strong preseason showing

Junior left back Tommy Silva prepares to strike the ball. Silva recorded both assists on the UCLA’s two goals against Westmont in the Bruins’ 2-0 sweep. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Nick Darrow

Aug. 23, 2022 5:39 p.m.

The Bruins will soon begin their regular season with two exhibition matches under their belts.

No. 23 UCLA men’s soccer went 1-0-1 in its exhibition matches last week, with a 2-0 win over Westmont followed by a 0-0 tie against UNLV. After the pair of preseason games, the Bruins will now open up their regular season schedule with a home game against UC Irvine on Thursday.

In its first exhibition game, the blue and gold played a familiar foe in Westmont, a team it faced in the 2021 preseason, when it came away with a 3-0 win. This year, the Bruins got off to a quick start with two first-half goals, the first from junior forward Andre Ochoa in the seventh minute, and then a 41st-minute goal from senior forward Constantinos Michaelides.

Even though the Bruins were able to score two goals in the contest, the anchor was the team’s defense, as UCLA held Westmont without a shot for the first 87 minutes of the game, and outshot its opponent 16-2 over the full contest.

Sophomore goalkeeper Nate Crockford said he was very happy with the team’s performance in the first game, and sees a team that definitely will continue to improve.

“I think the team did really well,” Crockford said. “We’re getting in the right positions and we’re getting the right opportunities, so we’re going to keep going forward and getting better.”

In its second exhibition game, UCLA took on UNLV. Despite allowing the Rebels to have the first shot of the game, the Bruins’ defense was on display again, keeping a second clean sheet in as many games.

Coach Ryan Jorden said he was very pleased with how preseason went.

“Having the exhibitions is great because you get to start to expand minutes of players, look at some relationships,’’ Jorden said. “You get the opportunity to see players making a case for themselves in a situation where it’s not against their teammates. I think we found out a lot about our group, and we certainly learned a lot of things that we can grow and get better at.”

After a 3-7-2 season in 2020, the Bruins followed that up with a 11-7-1 season last year. UCLA will also benefit from only a few departures and a significant number of incoming freshmen to bolster the roster.

Junior defender Grayson Doody said he has a lot of faith in his team, beginning with its potential and skill.

“As a team, I think we have a lot of talent and we’re all very optimistic about what we can do this year.” Doody said. “Our expectations are high in terms of doing well in conference, taking care of out-of-conference games, and then hopefully we can make a run, but we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

The Bruins will begin their quest with their season opener at Wallis Annenberg Stadium at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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Nick Darrow | Sports reporter
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.
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