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UCLA Men’s Soccer Faces Huge Challenge at Home Tonight Versus #1 Washington

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Yes, the Huskies are the top-ranked men’s soccer team in the nation after former #1 Virginia and former #3 SMU suffered their first losses of the season.

UCLA’s junior midfielder Marcony Pimentel.
uclabruins.com

In the penultimate game of their eight-game home stand, the UCLA Bruins men’s soccer team (5-6-1, 1-3-1 Pac-12) faces perhaps it’s toughest challenge of the season in the top-ranked Washington Huskies (12-1-0, 5-0-0 Pac-12). The Huskies have already beaten the Bruins in Seattle by the score of 5-0 and UW comes to Westwood at about the worst possible time as this game is critical for UCLA’s postseason hopes.

The contest kicks off at 5:00 pm PT and will be the first half of a doubleheader featuring UCLA’s men’s and women’s soccer teams versus their respective Washington squads with the women from both schools kicking off at 8 pm PT, about an hour after the end of the men’s game. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks National, Los Angeles, and Washington.

With just five games left in the regular season, a loss to U-Dub tonight would mean that the Bruins would need to go at least 2-1-1 in their last four games of the season, three of which are on the road. But a getting a result against Washington tonight does not seem likely against the one-loss and top ranked Huskies.

Last Time Out

Last Thursday night, UCLA was played off the park at home by #18 San Diego. who prevailed 4-1. Miguel Berry, the “Ronaldo of the WCC,” scored an impressive brace to register his eleventh and twelfth goals of the season and was matched by Alex Churness, who notched his third and fourth goals of the season.

Berry scored his first goal in the second minute with Churless finding the back of the net in the third minute. These goals continued UCLA’s unfortunate tradition of conceding very, very early in games in 2019.

It was 2-0 when, in the 18th minute, UCLA junior midfielder Marcony Pimentel scored and got UCLA to within one goal, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Bruins would get no closer, as Berry earned his brace in the 34th minute, and Churless closed the book on the Bruins for good with his second of the night in the 56th minute.

Frankly, the Bruins looked about as bad as they have all season, mirroring their performance in the 5-1 loss at home to Georgetown. Now, it will face the best team in the conference and the nation.

Washington Huskies

Washington is deserving of its number one ranking. U-Dub only has one loss on the season and has won its last eight games. Incredibly, the Huskies have only allowed six, yes, six goals in thirteen games this season.

Washington’s only loss on the season was a 1-0 contest to Michigan in Ann Arbor on the second weekend in September. The Huskies are undefeated in Pac-12 play and have won five games on the road, including two in the Bay Area against Stanford and UC Berkeley.

Earlier in the season, the Huskies blew the Bruins out of Seattle, 5-0. It was over before it began with UW scoring in the first minute. Then again in the 13th minute. And, again, shortly before the half. UCLA was down 3-0 and was out-shot 11-0 in the half. Although Washington only had two shots in the second half, both of those found the back of the net, leading to the 5-0 final score.

Washington has had balanced scoring in 2019, with five players having netted between three and six goals. Sophomore midfielder Lucas Meeks leads the team in goals with six, but junior midfielder Blake Bodily is right behind him with five goals to go along with five assists.

Freshman San Fowler and Junior Bryce Logan have split the goalkeeping duties for Washington this season. Fowler has started seven games and allowed only one goal, recording six clean sheets while saving eleven shots on goal. Logan has started six games and allowed five goals, earning three clean sheets and making twenty-one saves.

Fowler has played in four of the five of UW’s conference games, including the 5-0 blowout of the Bruins. Expect to see him in goal for Washington tonight.

Outlook

I am not confident about this one at all. UCLA should be pumped up to try to take down #1, but U-Dub’s defense is just too good and UCLA seems one-dimensional with Milan Illoski being the Bruins’ obvious threat. I see the game being closer than the one in Seattle and, hopefully, UCLA does not leak goals early, but I still see the Bruins dropping this contest.

A 2-0 score seems about right with a late goal making it seem not as close as it should have seemed. I hope I am wrong and would happily eat crow if the Bruins got the upset win or earned at least a draw.


Go Bruins!