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UCLA men’s soccer wins 1st conference victory of the season against Cal

Redshirt junior midfielder Tucker Lepley chases after a ball after evading a tackle from a UCLA men’s soccer opponent. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

Men’s Soccer


California1
UCLA2

By Dylan Winward

Oct. 2, 2023 1:55 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 3 at 9:17 p.m.

The Bruins earned four points on the week with their victory over California.

UCLA men’s soccer (4-2-2, 1-0-1 Pac-12) scored twice to beat Cal (4-3-3, 1-2-1) on Sunday at Wallis Annenberg Stadium. The Bruins emerged victorious in their second game of the week against a Bay Area team to kick off the Pac-12 season.

UCLA put seven shots on goal without scoring in the first half, including a shot from senior forward Andre Ochoa inside the box in the ninth minute and a crossbar hit from graduate student midfielder Ryan Becher in the 13th minute.

Coach Ryan Jorden said scoring more goals earlier in the game would have reduced anxiety for the team later. In the final 10 minutes, Cal scored a goal and missed a penalty.

“I thought we dominated the game of possession, thought we controlled the tempo of it,” he said. “I thought we managed every aspect of the game with the exception of taking the second, third and fourth goal.”

The Bruins’ leading scorer, graduate student forward Jack Sarkos, was introduced 30 minutes into the game after having picked up a knock against Stanford on Thursday.

Becher, who also scored against Stanford earlier in the week, said while he wasn’t worried about the Bruins’ ability to score, doing so earlier would have been preferred.

“You keep peppering the goal, and you’re like, ‘Is it going to happen?’” he said. “If we can get more earlier, it would just help us out.”

Becher added that despite playing multiple matches this week, he feels he is prepared for future games because of his experience with conditioning and rest as he enters his fifth year of college soccer.

The Bruins scored in the 50th minute with a tap-in from Becher off a cross from redshirt junior forward Jose Contell. Becher said that while he was pleased with the goals he scored this week against Stanford and Cal, he was more excited about the impact they had on the team.

The Bruins continued to push to score more but conceded an 80th-minute penalty, with which Golden Bears midfielder Juan Martinez hit the crossbar in Cal’s fifth shot.

In the 86th minute, redshirt junior midfielder Tucker Lepley put the Bruins up by two off a top-corner shot from outside the box after a long dribble. Senior defender Grayson Doody celebrated the goal and said he was happy to see his captain get on the scoresheet in the game.

“In Tucker, we see it all the time, so it’s nice to see that everyone can see it now in a game – and he showed it, so it was beautiful,” he said.

Martinez pulled back a consolation goal for Cal in the 87th minute with a left-footed strike into the bottom left of the goal.

The game also saw a backline rotation for the Bruins after an early injury to senior defender Pablo Greenlee. Jorden said defensive rotations within the team included an opportunity for him to give minutes to junior defender Pietro Grassi, who returned from injury to play his first minutes of 2023 after starting 36 games for the team in the last two seasons.

“You’ve just got to manage your roster and your team, and sometimes you give guys an opportunity, and sometimes you have to manage minutes on people, and we had to do both,” he said.

Jorden also said he was happy with his team’s overall performances this week, which positioned it in third place on the Pac-12 table after two conference games – the lowest number played in the conference.

“We’ve put ourselves in a situation now where we go to the Northwest with a chance to be at the end of the next weekend at the top of the table,” he said. “Our objective at home was to do that. We were obviously disappointed with not getting a win the other night, but we did the job to position ourselves for next weekend.”

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Dylan Winward | Features and student life editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
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