UCLA men’s soccer begins season 2-0 for the first time since 2018
Redshirt sophomore forward Jose Contell celebrates with a backflip. Contell scored UCLA’s lone goal against Virginia Tech in its shutout on Sunday at home. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
|No. 23 UCLA||1|
By Lauryn Wang
Aug. 29, 2022 12:49 p.m.
The Bruins served the Hokies their first 0-2 start in 11 years.
No. 23 UCLA men’s soccer (2-0) held Virginia Tech (0-2) scoreless Thursday at home to notch its second win of the season in 1-0 fashion. With the victory, the Bruins’ record is now a mirror of the Hokies’ as they open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2018.
Junior defender Tommy Silva said notching a win against a team from the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference was gratifying, adding that the first two games of the season have exemplified the Bruins’ quick pace of play.
“It’s really nice to beat an ACC team,” Silva said. “In both games this weekend, we really showed our style of play. We’re going to dominate possessions and make the other teams run a lot and that’s something we’re going to keep working on and continuing throughout this year.”
Even though they maintained a majority of the possession throughout the first half, the Bruins went scoreless in the first 45 minutes for the second straight game. The blue and gold held a 4-0 advantage of shots on target at the half but could not convert until the 80th minute.
In the second half, UCLA struggled to find its rhythm as the game clock ticked by, committing five offsides violations in a span of 10 minutes – the last one coming after sophomore defender Aaron Edwards covered 60 yards down the line and was headed towards the goal. Virginia Tech also fell stagnant, failing to register a shot on goal in the second half until the 76th minute.
Nevertheless, coach Ryan Jorden said he was undeterred by the offsides calls because it signaled that his team was getting in a position to score.
“At the end of the day, if you’re not getting called for offsides, you’re not trying to get behind the opponent,” Jorden said. “It showed me a good quality that we were finding opportunities to play those balls and those guys on the back end of it were looking to get behind. That’s how you score goals.”
Just when it looked like the game might end in a draw, redshirt sophomore forward Jose Contell found the back of the net off a left-footed cross from Silva with just under 10 minutes to play. Freshman midfielder Tarun Karumanchi was also credited with an assist, the first of his collegiate career.
Contell said the goal came against a particularly tough defensive strategy on Virginia Tech’s end, but UCLA’s perseverance eventually paid off.
“We knew that it was a really tough team to score against because they pull the line really low,” Contell said. “We tried getting behind, and when you try something a hundred times, at least one time it’ll work. We’re happy for that.”
Silva said the Bruins’ focus on honing defensive skills in the offseason is starting to pay dividends as the season gears up. UCLA hasn’t allowed a shot on target in either of its first two games, and now have two shutouts to show for it.
“A big emphasis in the offseason was our defense and keeping clean sheets, which we’ve been able to do so far and will keep doing,” Silva said.
Contell added that the Bruins feel ready for conference play and are capitalizing on their momentum.
“We are really excited that the season is back again,” Contell said. “We’ve been waiting a long time since last year, and we’re really excited to be back and we’re ready to play a Pac-12 game.”
But first, UCLA will take on Liberty at home Friday as the blue and gold continues its nonconference slate.