The UCLA Men’s Soccer team (4-2-1) opens up PAC 12 Conference play tonight at home against the Washington Huskies (6-2-0). Both teams are ranked, with UCLA checking in at #13 in the NSCAA poll, with UDub just three spots behind, at #16.
Interestingly, the Huskies were not ranked last week, making a significant move to #16. On the other hand, the Bruins fell seven spots from #6 after losing at Cal Poly. Here are the details of tonight's the game:
Opponent: Washington Huskies
When: Thursday, September 29, 2016, 7 p.m. PT
Where: Drake Stadium
Washington comes into tonight's game on a hot streak, winning their last three games. Each of those wins, however, came at home. In fact, Washington is a perfect 4-0 at home, although the team is only 2-2 on the road, beating Dartmouth and St. Mary's, while falling to Harvard and Utah Valley.
Speaking of Utah Valley, that team is the only ranked team that the Huskies have faced on the season. Utah Valley is #21 and Washington lost to them, 2-1, in the Huskies' first game of the season. Although the Huskies have had a soft non-conference schedule, UCLA under Head Coach Jorge Salcedo is prone to losing games that it should win. Exhibit "A" is the Cal Poly game from last week.
Washington has scored 15 goals on the season, while only conceding nine. Three different Huskies, freshman midfielder Handwalla Bwana, sophomore forward Davis Coly, and senior forward Mason Robertson, lead Washington in goals scored with three apiece. Bwana also has three assists, while two of Coly's three goals were game winners. Bwana is a "super-sub," having only started one game for UDub this season.
Auden Schilder has started in seven of Washington's eight games this season. Schilder is 5-2 with two clean sheets, 18 saves, and a .97 goals against average. Expect him in net tonight.
UCLA lost a tough game to Cal Poly last week, 1-0, the type of loss that has characterized Coach Salcedo's tenure at UCLA. The Bruins have loads more talent than the Mustangs, but were unable to finish their chances after conceding in the 9th minute. Despite having ten shots, the Bruins only put two shots on frame. That is simply not going to get it done.
Tonight the Bruins return to the friendly confines of Drake Stadium, where they are 3-1 this season, with their only loss to Duke, 1-0. UCLA has only conceded two goals at Drake, while scoring eleven goals, including ten in their last two home games. Hopefully the UCLA offense will get on track tonight.
Offensively, junior forward Abu Danladi and junior midfielder Brian Iloski lead UCLA in goals with three each. Danladi has done his work in only four games. Sophomore midfielder Jackson Yueill has five assists on the year (four of which were in the 6-1 Akron victory). Despite leading UCLA in goals last season with 12, junior forward Sedi Adekoya only has one goal; it would be nice to see Adekoya break out with a goal or two tonight.
Senior goalkeeper Juan Cervantes continues to play well, allowing only five goals in seven games, for a .68 goals against average. Cervantes has recorded 25 saves, several of which were top class. He also has two clean sheet on the year.
The Bruins have not allowed any opponent more than one goal this season. Despite that, UCLA has lost two games (by scores of 1-0) and drawn once, 1-1. With the offensive talent this team has, UCLA should not be losing games in which it concedes a single goal.
I predict that UCLA will concede a single goal tonight, but that it will score two of its own, for a 2-1 Bruin victory.
This is your UCLA Men's Soccer versus Washington Huskies open thread. Go Bruins!