November 16, 1998
LOS ANGELES - The fifth-ranked and sixth-seeded UCLA men's soccer team will host Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday, November 22 at UCLA's North Athletic Field at 1 pm.
The defending NCAA champion Bruins (16-3) received an at-large bid into the tournament. Fresno State (11-5-5) earned an automatic berth after winning the WAC Championship Sunday 0-0 (penalty kicks) over Tulsa. This is UCLA's 25th overall and 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. UCLA's all-time NCAA record is 40-23, and the Bruins have won NCAA titles in 1997, 1990 and 1985. "I'm happy that we'll be at home in the first round and I'm assuming in the second round since we're a seeded team. Playing as many home games as we can is always a plus," said UCLA head coach Sigi Schmid. UCLA has won 30 of its last 31 home games.
Overall, UCLA is 12-8-3 against Fresno State. Earlier this season on Sept. 13, the Bruins shut out the Bulldogs 3-0 behind goals from Tom Poltl, Martin Bruno and Seth George.
The Bruins have faced Fresno State three times in the NCAA Tournament and hold a 2-0 record against the Bulldogs in the first round. UCLA defeated Fresno State 2-1 in 1984 and 1-0 in 1987. In the teams' only other NCAA meeting, Fresno State beat the Bruins 2-1 in overtime in the second round of the 1986 Championships.
UCLA is led by Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year Award candidates Seth George (15 goals, 8 assists, 8 game-winning goals, 38 points) and Sasha Victorine (1g/7a). Sophomore goalkeeper Nick Rimando has posted a goals against average of 0.55 with eight solo shutouts.
Head coach Dave Chesler's Fresno State Bulldogs are led by freshman midfielder Noah Delgado (5g/5a) and senior midfielder Chad Brown (4g/6a).
The Bruins and Bulldogs are two of eight West Coast and seven California teams in the tournament. Santa Clara and Washington are in one quarter of the bracket; Fresno State and UCLA in another; and Cal State Fullerton, San Diego, Stanford and San Jose State in the other. Said Schmid, "It's exciting for West Coast soccer because it's the first time we've been divided up in more than one bracket. This is the most national of all the soccer pairings I've seen. It's going to give a great test of East Coast vs. West Coast strength." Should UCLA win, it would meet the winner of Sunday's Saint Louis (14-4-1) and Creighton (14-3-2) match.