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UCLA men’s soccer bests San Diego State to continue undefeated Pac-12 run

Senior defender Tommy Silva, who takes most of the corners for UCLA men’s soccer, sends a corner kick into the box. Silva assisted both goals against San Diego State from set pieces. (Ella Greenberg Winnick/Daily Bruin)

Men's Soccer

San Diego State1

By Anthony Aroyan

Oct. 22, 2023 12:37 p.m.

The Bruins continued their undefeated Pac-12 run without a key piece of the puzzle.

UCLA men’s soccer (6-3-3, 3-0-2 Pac-12) defeated San Diego State (6-3-4, 0-3-2) by a score of 2-1 at Wallis Annenberg Stadium on Friday night. The win places UCLA first in the conference standings for now – with second place Oregon State playing California on Sunday – having played every team in the Pac-12 once.

The win came without the Bruins’ leading scorer, graduate student forward Jack Sarkos, as he was on the sidelines with a knee brace.

Coach Ryan Jorden said he trusted the rest of his squad to find ways to score without its top scorer.

“We have got a bunch of good players,” Jorden said. “We want him (Sarkos) to play games, but you have to be intelligent and make sure that you don’t risk guys when you should be smart with them.”

The Aztecs found their opener in the 14th minute to give them an early lead. A through ball from midfielder Jules Anderson slipped past the Bruin backline and found the path of darting forward Rommee Jaridly, who buried his shot into the bottom left of the net.

Despite conceding early, UCLA continued to apply pressure, finding seven shots to SDSU’s three in the first half. The most promising chance came in the 11th minute when senior forward Andre Ochoa found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper but struck the ball directly into the hands of Logan Erb.

“In the first half I came out flat, missing my first shot and giving up the ball for them to score on the counter,” Ochoa said. “I’m just thankful to have my boys, they pulled me up and got me ready for the second half and we came out on top.”

Coming out of halftime, the Bruins wasted no time finding the equalizer. In just 47 seconds, senior defender Pablo Greenlee was awarded a free kick on the right edge of the box.

Stepping up to take the kick, senior defender Tommy Silva lofted the ball into the box, where it found Ochoa. Not to be denied a second time, the forward smashed his strike into the top right of the goal.

UCLA’s second goal came just nine minutes later. As Silva struck the ball from a corner kick, junior defender Pietro Grassi rose into the air, heading the ball past Erb. In his fifth match after returning from injury, Grassi’s eventual game-winner was met with cheers from fans and teammates alike.

Silva – who recorded two assists on set pieces – said he credits his assistant coach for developing the team’s identity on free kicks and corners.

“I got to give credit to our coach, Paul Killian,” Silva said. “He has really been dialed in with all the set pieces and doing his research on the opponent. He always designs some good plays for us.”

The Bruins continued to press forward after taking the lead, testing the Aztec defense but failing to extend the scoreline. On the other end of the pitch, the defense would not concede a shot in the second half.

Jorden said the performance was one of the best the team has put together this season.

“We played really well for the entirety of the 90 minutes – we should have scored maybe two or three in the first half and five in the second half,” Jorden said. “This was the best collective team performance we’ve had so far.”

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Anthony Aroyan
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