UCLA men’s soccer defeats SDSU in final conference match ahead of NCAA tournament
Redshirt senior midfielder Jose Sosa controls the ball in front of an oncoming Aztec defender in the Bruins’ first matchup of the season. In Friday’s away rematch, UCLA defeated SDSU again, coming away with a 2-1 result to conclude the regular season. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
By Lexi Grimes
Nov. 13, 2022 2:36 p.m.
Following the cancellation of an Oregon State rematch last Sunday, the Bruins have capped off their regular season on a high note.
UCLA men’s soccer (10-6-1, 4-4-1 Pac-12) defeated conference foe San Diego State (5-9-4, 1-6-3) 2-1 on the road Friday evening in its final game of the 2022 regular season.
The Aztecs came out with a more aggressive start than the Bruins, recording three shots and three corner kicks in the first six minutes of the match. In contrast, UCLA did not record its first shot on goal until the 27th minute of the game. However, by the end of the first half, the game was tied, as neither team was able to find the back of the net.
The first goal of the game came from the penalty arc courtesy of redshirt sophomore midfielder Tucker Lepley in the 52nd minute off of an assist from junior defender Grayson Doody. SDSU followed up just three minutes later, recording an equalizing goal off of a corner kick. The match remained knotted at one apiece until junior forward Andre Ochoa, a former Aztec, netted a go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute, giving UCLA the lead and eventually the win.
Lepley, the 2021 Team MVP, had his first start of the season after being sidelined for the first 12 games with an injury. The goal against the Aztecs marked Lepley’s second in two games.
“Being injured was kind of rough for me,” Lepley said. “But I feel like I’m getting better and better every week, and I feel like the results are starting to show. I hope I can just do whatever I can to help the team win.”
The Bruins will now turn their focus to the postseason tournament. Although the official tournament seeding is not announced until Monday, coach Ryan Jorden said he is confident his team has done enough to earn a bid and a home advantage in the upcoming first round.
“We’re pretty sure we’re going to be in the tournament,” Jorden said. “The question is who will we be hosting in the first round.”
UCLA commenced its playoff run last year with a double-overtime victory at home over UC Santa Barbara. However, the Bruins fell shortly after in a second round road matchup against Duke.
Ochoa said that following the win at SDSU, the blue and gold is heading into the tournament with positive momentum and is looking to take the postseason one game at a time.
“Getting a win on the road and building momentum is good for us, and it should be a good postseason,” Ochoa said. “We’re just staying together, staying locked in, taking care of our bodies, and taking it one game at a time. We’re trying to get results every single game and hopefully win it all at the end.”