Junior midfielder Leo Stolz scored the first goal of his UCLA career in the 49th minute and that would be all that the UCLA men’s soccer team would need to defeat Southern California rivals UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, in front of a crowd of 2,094 at Drake Stadium.
The Bruins improved to 2-1-1 on the year while the Gauchos droped to 2-2-0. With the win, UCLA remained undefeated against UC Santa Barbara at Drake Stadium, upping its record to 4-0-1 record against the Gauchos at the venue.
The first half was played mostly in the midfield, with neither side seeing a great scoring chance. The best chance of the half came for the Bruins in the 28th minute, when freshman Felix Vobejda took the ball down the right side, going one-on-one with a Gaucho defender. He cut inside and took a shot on net that was blocked by another UCSB defender who was able to get back in recover. The ball came back to Vobejda though and he put another shot on goal, but Gaucho keeper Josh McNeely made the save to keep the match scoreless.
A very physical first half spilled over into the second, as both teams refused to give an inch in the midfield. Then in the 49th minute, the Bruins broke through, as Stolz took a short free kick near midfield and began dribbling his way towards the UCSB end. He maneuvered his way around the Gaucho defense, eventually getting into the box and blasting a shot far post that beat McNeely for the goal. Senior Reed Williams also did a great job contributing on the play, boxing out a defender to give Stolz a clear path to the goal.
UC Santa Barbara increased the pressure as they looked for the equalizer and eventually caught a break in the 61st minute. Freshman Nathan Smith was handed his second yellow card of the match for a foul just outside of the box, sending UCLA down to 10 men for the third straight match. The Gauchos looked relentless in their pressure, but UCLA’s back line of Patrick Matchett, Joe Sofia, Aaron Simmons and Javan Torre held firm and were able to continually deny the UCSB attack. Senior Ryan Lee and sophomore Grady Howe also did a great job in the defensive midfield to thwart the Gaucho offense. Eventually the Bruins were able to run out the clock and hold on for a big 1-0 victory over their rivals.
Overall, UC Santa Barbara outshot the Bruins, 15-8, while junior goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. made two saves to pick up his third clean sheet in four matches.
“Tonight was a hard fought match,” head coach Jorge Salcedo said. “The guys once again had to dig deep to pull out a victory. Our goal from Leo Stolz was a fantastic individual goal with great technique in his final finish and his ability to break down a handful of defenders. We were unfortunate to go down to 10 men again, but I’m really proud of the effort and the resiliency the guys put in tonight to beat a good UC Santa Barbara team.”
UCLA (2-1-1) will return to the pitch this Sunday to square off against San Diego (1-2-1) at 4 p.m. out at Drake Stadium. The match will also be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.
Watch UCLA's game-winning goal