The #19 ranked UCLA Men’s soccer team opens Pac-12 play tonight on the road in Corvallis, Oregon, as the Bruins (3-2) take on the Beavers (3-3) at Paul Lorenz Field. Kickoff is at 7 pm PT and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
The Bruins are coming off a nice road win while the Beavers have suffered two straight losses. It should be a very interesting match-up for what will be the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams.
Last Time Out
On Sunday night, UCLA headed “over the hill” to face the undefeated and nationally ranked Cal State Northridge Matadors (4-0-1). The Bruins had been licking their wounds after being mauled by the Georgetown Hoyas six days earlier, but UCLA showed no ill effects from that loss, grabbing an early lead and ultimately pulling away for a 4-2 road victory. Mlian Iloski (who else?) got UCLA on the scoresheet in the 14th minute, by being in the right place at the right time and exploiting a CSUN miscue in the back.
Northridge drew even in the 29th minute on the first of two goals by Daniel Trejo (does he go by Danny?) and the teams went to the dressing rooms at the half knotted at one apiece.
Milan Iloski got his second goal of the night and seventh of the season, earning the brace and giving the Bruins the lead in the 55th minute. It was a lead that UCLA would not relinquish as nine minutes later UCLA potted another goal to make it 3-1. This time, it was Milan Iloski with the assist to sophomore midfielder Cody Sundquist who scored the goal, his first of the season and second of his Bruin career.
Trejo brought the Matadors back to within one goal with another tally in the 73rd minute, but another Iloski, this time Milan’s brother Eric, struck for the Bruins in the 84th minute to put the game away, 4-2.
It was a solid road win for the Bruins against a ranked team, and will be good for UCLA’s RPI down the road.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State was predicted to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason poll, behind Stanford and Washington. This was largely predicated on 2018 being one of the best seasons of Beaver soccer in some time. OSU made the postseason for only the fourth time in program history, with the last being in 2014. The Beavers went 11-6-3 overall, 6-3-1 in the Pac-12. Head Coach Terry Boss was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year (remember, there are only six teams in the Pac-12: Stanford, UC Berkeley, Oregon State, Washington, San Diego St., and UCLA.)
So far this season, Oregon State has been . . . average. They are 3-3 with wins against Colgate, Davidson, and Pacific and losses to Coastal Carolina, Grand Canyon (the Beavers’ only road game so far), and more recently, UC Santa Barbara in Corvallis. OSU’s slow start is a bit confusing since Oregon State returned nine of eleven starters from that 2018 squad. 2018 PAC 12 Freshman of the Year, midfielder Sofiane Djeffal and three all PAC 12 players from 2018, sophomore forward Gloire Amanda, senior defender Eric Diaz, and junior defender Joe Hafferty, all return for the Beavers.
Diaz has scored twice and added an assist, and Djeffal has a goal and three assists, but the best player so far this season has been sophomore defender Adrian Crespo, a Spanish international, who has two goals and five assists.
Sophomore goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez, another Spanish international, played every minute of every game as a freshman and has done the same through six games so far this season. Fernandez has faced twenty-four shots this season, saving sixteen, but allowing eight goals. He only has one clean sheet this campaign, against Davidson, the Beavers’ weakest opponent of the year so far.
This is a very interesting game to me. Through its first five games, UCLA has shown a different style of play and, perhaps, raised expectations for Coach Jorden’s first season. At this point, I’m not sure anyone thinks UCLA will finish 5th in the Pac-12 this season, although that is where they were predicted to finish in the Pac-12 preseason poll. Oregon State, on the other hand was predicted to finish better than the Bruins but, for all its returning talent, the Beavers sit 3-3 against a relatively weak non-conference slate.
If this game was at Wallis Annenberg Stadium, I would predict UCLA to win, but they will be on the road. UCLA performed pretty well on the road in Indiana earlier this season, making the calculus even more difficult. I think UCLA will score two goals. The question is—how many will Oregon State score? I say they Beavers get only one goal and UCLA starts conference play with an important road win.