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UCLA men’s soccer’s home opener ends with draw against CSUN

Graduate student forward Jack Sarkos prepares to take a shot for UCLA men’s soccer. (Jake Greenbeg-Bell/Daily Bruin)

Men's Soccer

Cal State Northridge1

By Matthew Royer

Sept. 5, 2023 2:39 p.m.

The Bruins had no trouble getting into the box and creating chances.

Whether they were awarded 11 free kicks, nine corner kicks or even a penalty kick, the Matadors had to fend off a flurry of attacks headed their way.

However, Monday night, the ball could not find the back of the net – at least, not until the 84th minute.

“Personally, I was getting frustrated,” said graduate student forward Jack Sarkos. “You want to consistently score goals and put the game to bed as early as possible, … but sometimes, all you need is one opportunity.”

Sarkos scored what was seemingly the decisive goal on a header from the back-left post, but Cal State Northridge (1-0-3) delivered the equalizer four minutes later, capitalizing off of a mistake from UCLA men’s soccer’s (1-1-1) backline and forcing the programs to settle for a 1-1 draw in the Bruins’ home opener.

A weak pass from senior defender Grayson Doody, which was intended for sophomore goalkeeper Sam Joseph, darted toward CSUN forward Jamar Ricketts. Joseph leaped toward the attacker, grazing his feet inside the box and awarding the Matadors the game-tying penalty chance, which midfielder Jorge Solorzano converted.

Redshirt junior midfielder Tucker Lepley said while the technical lapse from Doody led to the equalizing goal, it wasn’t representative of the center back’s overall performance.

“For 90 minutes, he was the best player on the field,” Lepley said. “Everybody believes in Doody. Every time he gets the ball, we know he’s going to make the right decision. He just got a little unlucky.”

UCLA started the contest in swift fashion, tallying three corner kicks in the first 20 minutes while also controlling possession of the ball, which would hold throughout the match. In the 20th minute, a scoring opportunity on one of those corners led to a Matador handball within the box and the Bruins being awarded a penalty.

Graduate student midfielder Ryan Becher took his position at the top of the box to take the penalty and fired toward the goal. However, the UMBC transfer got under the ball and fired the shot off of the right crossbar and back into play, keeping the score knotted at zero.

Lepley said it was a rare miss for Becher.

“We all have full confidence in him,” Lepley said. “He makes PKs every day in training, and I’m sure if he gets another chance, he’s going to bury it.”

Lepley added that although the missed penalty kick grew decisive since the game ended in a draw, he was more concerned about the amount of chances the Bruins did not convert.

UCLA outshot CSUN by more than twofold – 18 to eight. Despite seven shots on goal, the Bruins were left hapless with only one goal on the board to close out their home opener.

Sarkos said coach Ryan Jorden told the team after the match that they did not deserve the result they received.

“Coach put it perfectly,” Sarkos said. “We played some amazing soccer today. But you know, that’s just somehow, sometimes the way that football works, you know.”

Jorden added that despite starting the season with a win, loss and now a draw, he feels good about his team’s positioning to begin the campaign.

“Soccer is a funny game with fine margins,” Jorden said. “We just have to continue to try to get ourselves those margins to get us on the winning side.”

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Matthew Royer | News and Sports senior staff
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
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