UCLA men’s soccer cannot catch Cal State Fullerton in away loss
UCLA men’s soccer coach Ryan Jorden exchanges thoughts with former volunteer assistant coach Walker Zimmerman. (Daily Bruin file photo)
|Cal State Fullerton||4|
Sept. 18, 2023 1:51 p.m.
A promising matchup quickly took a turn for the worse when the Bruins gave up a goal in the opening minutes.
UCLA men’s soccer (2-2-1) couldn’t respond to Cal State Fullerton (4-2-2) away from home, losing against the Titans for the first time in their last nine meetings. After the Bruins earned their first clean sheet of the season in their previous match, the narrative flipped Sunday. The defense conceded four goals to the Titans – including a penalty conceded in the 72nd minute – en route to a 4-1 defeat.
The scoring came early and often in the first half, with Fullerton midfielder Matthias Heiland pouncing on sophomore goalkeeper Sam Joseph’s loose pass in the box and finding the back of the net after just two minutes of play.
Coach Ryan Jorden said conceding early was a significant factor in giving the Titans momentum to win on their home turf.
“You can’t go on the road and give somebody a goal, which we did in the first few minutes,” Jorden said. “You can’t pass the ball to the other team when you’re wide open and exposed, but I thought our response was really good.”
Despite conceding early, the Bruins continued to put pressure on the ball and create chances off the counter-attack.
Senior forward Andre Ochoa received a deep pass on the edge of the box and initiated a give-and-go connection with redshirt junior forward Jose Contell to find the equalizer for UCLA. Ochoa connected with the end of a low-driven cross into the six-yard box and tapped the ball in for the Bruins’ only goal of the contest.
Ochoa, an Anaheim local, said he appreciated the support of friends and family who attended the game but wished the team could have given a stronger performance.
“It’s always good having support and coming back home,” Ochoa said. “It’s just unfortunate to not win – just disappointed about that.”
For the rest of the night, Jorden said the performance was marred by mistakes.
The 1-1 stalemate only lasted for a couple of minutes before Fullerton capitalized on a corner after previously testing Joseph with multiple shots from inside the box, providing the Titans with their second score of the night.
Leaving his feet with his back to goal, unmarked Fullerton midfielder Marci Killeen’s bicycle kick rifled through the center of the goal, giving the hosts a lead that proved to be insurmountable.
“We conceded the second goal because we just didn’t do the job,” Jorden said. “So at halftime, I was calm with the guys because I really feel like we had gotten into a place where we played really well.”
In the second half, a promising start with some bumps in the road soon turned into an out-of-control joyride.
Fullerton converted a 72nd minute penalty to increase their advantage to two goals, and with 10 minutes remaining, sophomore midfielder Cam Wilkerson was sent off with a red card for a late tackle.
With just 10 men, the Bruins were unable to mount the comeback. A fourth goal from Fullerton in the 85th minute would prove to be the dagger and the end to UCLA’s second loss of the season.
While the Bruins only found one goal on the night, they created 13 shots – although only four were on target. Jorden said the attack was not helped by the fact that Fullerton was dropping back to prevent UCLA from getting good shots in.
“We made mistakes tonight,” Jorden said. “In spite of that, we also created a lot of chances, but it’s harder to score goals when they have so many people in front of the goal that can get in the way. That’s where trying to chase games is hard.”