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Bruin Bites: Men's Soccer Shows the Way, More

The UCLA Soccer teams continued their series of high profile contests with other national contenders, the Women's Volleyball team started the regular season with a major toe stub, and four Baseball recruits were named to the USA national team

UCLA's All-American Leo Stolz
UCLA's All-American Leo Stolz

---Men's Soccer started the week by being named the #1 team in the country in the preseason Soccer America poll, after being ranked #4 in the initial NSCAA Coaches Poll. The Bruins then hit the road to back up the ranking. First up on Friday night was a resounding 3-1 victory over #11 Wake Forest. Here is a recap from the UCLA website. After conceding an early goal, UCLA got on the board with an unassisted goal in the 16th minute from redshirt senior forward Andrew Tusaazemajja. The Bruins took the lead six minutes later as Loyola (MD) transfer forward Larry Ndjock scored his first goal for the Bruins. Freshman forward Seyi Adekoya clinched the match in the 88th minute with his first collegiate goal. Some other Bruin teams might want to consider this template- go across country as a favorite, and take care of business in convincing fashion.

Next up for the Bruins was a match at #10 North Carolina. First team All-American and Pac-12 player of the year Leo Stolz picked up where he left off in 2013, as he opened the scoring in the 31st minute to give the Bruins the lead. And that stood up for the rest of the match, as UCLA swept the weekend series in the state of North Carolina against two top 20 teams.

The Bruins travel to Albuquerque for two matches at altitude next weekend, facing American University on Friday afternoon (note to Doughnut- this is what is actually meant by a neutral site). Saturday afternoon the Bruins face New Mexico. This entire athletic program is still reeling from the loss of their fantastic basketball coach after the 2013 season. We'll see if the Bruins can keep up the pressure.

---Women's Soccer played two matches at home this week, starting with perennial power North Carolina. This was a matchup of the last two national champions. After winning the toss, and choosing the shallow end at Drake, UCLA was unable to break through, as the game wound up in a 0-0 draw. The Bruins outshot the Tar Heels 12-4, with six shots on target while North Carolina did not have a single shot on goal. The silver lining to the frustrating evening was the new school record set by goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, who recorded her 39th career shutout. Here is the recap from the UCLA website.

The Bruins had what looked to be an easier time at least on paper on Sunday evening, hosting San Diego. Once again, the UCLA defense stifled the opponent's offense, but the Bruins were unable to score and went to the halftime break with the all too familiar 0-0 score. UCLA finally broke through in the second half. National team member and senior midfielder Sam Mewis opened the scoring in the 56th minute. Junior forward Kodi Lavrusky added an insurance goal in the 68th minute. Katelyn Rowland added another clean sheet to her school record total, as UCLA won the match 2-0.

The Bruins hit the road for the first time this season for their next matches. UCLA plays Hawaii on Friday afternoon (Friday night Pacific time) and Pepperdine on Saturday, with both matches being played in Honolulu. Another note to Doughnut- UCLA and Pepperdine play in Honolulu- that is a neutral site.

---Women's Volleyball came into the season unranked, and did nothing to change their status after three matches at Loyola Marymount. First up was an easy three set win over Binghampton (recap here) by the scores of 25-10, 25-17, 25-9 on Friday night. Saturday morning, the Bruins picked up another three set win over a better opponent, LIU Brooklyn (recap here). The set scores reflect the better competition- 25-17, 25-13 and a grinder 28-26 to close out the match.

But the Bruins then stubbed their collective toes big time on Saturday evening, getting bounced in three sets by Loyola Marymount. Set scores were 19-25, 22-25, 23-25. It looks like it could be another season in the wilderness for UCLA. Let's hope not.

We will know a lot more after next weekend, as the Bruins travel to Palo Alto for the Pac-12/ Big 10 Challenge. UCLA takes on #11 Illinois on Friday night and #1 ranked and defending national champion Penn State on Saturday night. This would be an excellent time to right the ship.

--- Finally, in what we hope will be the start of something big for the UCLA baseball program freshman class of 2015, four Bruin commits were named to the USA 18U National Team, and will travel to Mexico to help USA try to defend our Pan American title. The four commits are San Clemente HS teammates Kolby Allard (pitcher) and Lucas Herbert (catcher), San Dimas HS pitcher Peter Lambert, and Aliso Niguel HS pitcher Kyle Molnar. The national team has 20 members, so having four Bruin commits on this squad is really impressive. Now, if we can just get them through the draft and get them to campus. That is clearly a tall order, given recent history. But it is clearly better to have these players in the UCLA camp, and hope they don't sign, than it would be to have them committed to another school, and have to worry about them sneaking through the draft for one of our opponents. Here is a Baseball America article on the USA team, including the Bruin commits. Coach John Savage continues to build a pipeline, as the Bruins look to return to Omaha in future seasons.

That is it for the Olympic sports. Let's hope that the Football team can take a cue from Men's Soccer, and start to dominate lesser opponents. Go Bruins !!