UCLA Men's Soccer
Opponent: Cal Poly (3-1-1)
When: 7:00 PM PDT, Friday, September 18, 2015
Where: Drake Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Ordinarily I wouldn't be inclined to say that a match against Cal Poly could really test the Bruins, but these aren't ordinary times for UCLA Men's Soccer. The same UCLA Bruins that opened the season as the top-ranked team in the nation have since lost three straight, including an overtime loss to UC Riverside, and have dropped out of the top-25.
UCLA enters the contest with a single win in four games, and is averaging 1.0 goals/game while conceding 1.75 goals/game. As frustrating as it has been to watch UCLA struggle to create chances and control possession, it hasn't come close to matching the agony of seeing UCLA wilt under pressure. When the Bruins' opponents apply pressure, the UCLA defense cracks. If this were a new problem, it would be reasonable to expect adjustments and hope for improvement, but since it's a problem that, to a lesser extent, plagued last year's team too, it's harder to be hopeful about the likelihood of substantial improvement.
In each match preview that I've written this season, I've mentioned the Bruins' fantastic depth and talent. This is a team that should win and can win, but hasn't yet shown the organization and discipline that good teams possess. It's up to Coach Salcedo to find a solution, whether it involves changing the system to fit the skills of his players, or better employing the players on the roster to fit the system. Given the Bruins' tendency to succumb late in games when the defense comes under pressure, I'd like to see Coach Salcedo employ three central defenders instead of two, but whatever remedy Coach Salcedo tries has to produce results this weekend--the Bruins cannot afford to lose to either Cal Poly or UC Santa Barbara.
For those who plan to watch the game, keep an eye on freshmen Jose Hernandez and Jackson Yueill. Those two players--along with freshman Malcolm Jones--are going to be stars.
If UCLA is going to be a national title contender in 2015, then the Bruins need to finish this weekend with a pair of wins. If UCLA can't pick up wins at home against Cal Poly and UCSB, then the Bruins will not fare well when the Pac-12 season starts.
UCLA Women's Volleyball
Tournament: LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational
Opponent: Long Beach State (9-2)
When: 7:30 PM PDT, Friday, September 18, 2015
Where: Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, CA
Audio: Bruin Live Audio
Live Stats: Long Beach State GameTracker
The Bruins winning streak is now at seven after UCLA swept UC Irvine this morning in the first game of the Bruins' Mizuno Invitational doubleheader. UCLA faces a much tougher proposition in the nightcap--Long Beach State (9-2) sits just outside the AVCA Coaches Poll top-25, and should give the Bruins a much stiffer test.
Although UCLA swept UC Irvine this morning, the Bruins didn't dominate the match in the way that an elite team should. The final set scores (25-23, 25-17, 25-21) show that in the first and third sets, the Bruins had a bit of trouble putting the Anteaters away. And when you consider the fact that UCI outhit the Bruins .337 to .317, it's clear that UCLA didn't produce a strong defensive performance. The level of effort will have to improve if the Bruins are going to beat the 49ers tonight.
Coach Sealy made just one change to his starting lineup against the Anteaters--Kyra Rogers started in place of Haley Lawless. Jordan Anderson led UCLA with 21 kills and Reily Buechler added a dozen. Claire Felix dominated in the middle, hammering 8 kills and registering a .615 hitting percentage.
Zana Muno collected 43 assists and looks increasingly effective directing the attack. The usual suspects (Taylor Formico and Rachel Inouye) were solid defensively, and Inouye picked up a couple of UCLA's six aces.
The 49ers also won their first match today, beating #21 San Diego 25-22, 17-25, 22-25, 26-24, 17-15. The Toreros outhit the 49ers, but LBSU took advantage of USD mistakes, including 14 service errors, to claim the victory. The outcome demonstrates the mental toughness and resilience of the Long Beach State; the Bruins will need to crank up the intensity level this evening if they hope to end the non-conference portion of the schedule with an eighth straight win.