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UCLA men’s soccer starts season strong with top-five ranking

Junior forward Andre Ochoa prepares to strike the ball. Ochoa registered one shot on goal in No. 4 UCLA’s latest victory against Virginia Tech. After back-to-back shutouts, the Bruins vaulted 19 spots in the rankings. (Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)

men's soccer

Friday, 7 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
No TV info
Grand Canyon
Monday, 7 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
No TV info

By Lexi Grimes

Sept. 2, 2022 11:40 a.m.

After just two regular season games, the Bruins managed to jump 19 spots in the rankings.

No. 4 UCLA men’s soccer (2-0) started its season ranked 23rd, but after shutouts against UC Irvine and Virginia Tech, the Bruins have cracked the top five. Even further, the blue and gold is one of only 10 teams in the nation with a clean sheet across two games.

The number four slot is the highest UCLA has achieved since the first week of the 2015 season. Despite the impressive ranking, junior defender Pablo Greenlee said the team still has a lot more to prove.

“It’s definitely exciting to be validated by some of the coaches around the country,” Greenlee said. “But ultimately we are only two games in so we still have to work harder and try to be the number one spot.”

The Bruins have been working with their current roster since the springtime, when most of the new recruits arrived at campus to start practicing and preparing. Two transfers, graduate student defender Nicolas Blassou and junior forward Andre Ochoa, started in the games this weekend, along with freshman midfielder Tarun Karumanchi. After the season openers, Ochoa said the team is on the right track.

“The coaching staff, the players, the culture, it’s all coming along,” Ochoa said. “Now we just got to keep the momentum going.”

The blue and gold will play its first game of the weekend Friday against Liberty (1-0-1). This marks the first ever matchup between the Bruins and the Flames.

UCLA then moves on to a Monday night face-off against Grand Canyon (1-1). The Antelopes are another brand new opponent for the Bruins.

After a successful first week of the season, UCLA is continuing to be vigilant on and off the field, watching film and working hard with the hope of continuing its winning streak. Coach Ryan Jorden said heading into these next two games, there are still areas where the Bruins can improve.

“We’re early in the year,” Jorden said. “There’s things we have to get better on, on all fronts, and our job is to continue to have the attention to detail to do that.”

The Bruins were 9-3 at home last season and have gone 13-3 over the last 16 games at home. They look to notch their 14th home win on Friday at 7 p.m. against Liberty.

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Lexi Grimes | Sports reporter
Grimes is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. She was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball, men's soccer and women's volleyball beats.
Grimes is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. She was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball, men's soccer and women's volleyball beats.
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