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UCLA men’s soccer draws Cal to stay in running for Pac-12 title share

UCLA men’s soccer forward Andre Ochoa pushes the ball forward at the top of the box. The senior scored the Bruins’ lone goal against California on Thursday. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin staff)

Men's Soccer


UCLA1
California1

By Jack Carleton

Nov. 3, 2023 2:58 p.m.

Up a man the entire second half, the Bruins were only able to come away with a draw in the first match of their last road trip of the regular season.

UCLA men’s soccer (7-3-5, 4-0-4 Pac-12) continued its unbeaten streak against Pac-12 opponents Thursday, drawing conference rival California (6-5-5, 2-3-3) in a game that featured a first-half red card for the Golden Bears. A late goal kept the Bruins undefeated in Pac-12 play and put them one win away from a share of the conference title.

“The guys have had a great collective identity to put us there,” said coach Ryan Jorden. “When you’re the only undefeated team in a conference, that says a lot about your group, and so obviously we’re real positive as we go into this weekend.”

Through the first half, the Bruins only managed one shot compared to the Golden Bear’s double-digit count.

The trajectory of the game seemingly shifted, however, when in the 45th minute, Cal midfielder Giancarlo Mota took a heavy touch near the midline, giving the ball away to a streaking UCLA attacker. Mota lunged out to try and correct his mistake, catching sophomore midfielder Sebastian Rincon and drawing the red card from the referee.

In the 60th minute, Cal’s attack broke through when an attempted cross from defender Santiago Hopkins took a deflection and flew over freshman goalkeeper Wyatt Nelson’s outstretched arm and just under the crossbar to put the Golden Bears up by one.

In the second half, Cal was only outshot by UCLA 9-6 despite playing down a man the entire frame.

In the 81st minute, the attack found a gap with senior forward Andre Ochoa delivering a strike from the top of the box that overpowered Cal’s goalkeeper.

Ochoa said despite going down by one, the team stayed focused.

“We just stayed locked in, and we tried to generate the best possible opportunities,” Ochoa said. “We just got one that actually went in.”

The Bruins fished the ball out of the back of the net after their equalizer, hurrying to try and earn the win. However, the Golden Bears hung on through the ensuing attack and came away with the draw.

Jorden said the team’s ability to come back after going down is important.

“It’s a great testament to the character of our team,” Jorden said. “Every game is hard, and so to go behind on the road is not easy. And so I think for our guys, it’s a massive, massive credit to them. And it’s an important point to put us at the top of the table now.”

Senior defender Tommy Silva was the only outfield Bruin that played 90 minutes, with Jorden making substitutions early and often.

Jorden said with the busyness of the team’s current schedule, it was important to rotate the squad.

“We know that having played two games last weekend and two games this weekend – four games in 11 days,” Jorden said. “You’re trying to manage the mileage on some guys.”

Sophomore midfielder Cam Wilkerson said that while they wanted more, the team members are reminding themselves they can still win the Pac-12.

“We know we should win these games, but we’re just trying to stay positive and move onto Sunday,” Wilkerson said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter anymore as long as we win on Sunday.”

UCLA sits tied with Oregon State at the top of conference standings following Thursday afternoon and will have another game at Stanford on Sunday, which could determine the Pac-12 championship.

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