The 13th-ranked UCLA men’s soccer team earned its second straight victory on Thursday night, defeating the UC Riverside Highlanders, 3-0, at Drake Stadium. Junior Leo Stolz, senior Victor Munoz and sophomore Jordan Vale scored the goals for the Bruins while junior keeper Earl Edwards Jr. picked up his fourth clean sheet of the year. Freshman Gage Zerboni had two assists in the match as well.
UCLA finishes non-conference play with a 5-2-1 record while UC Riverside dropped to 5-1-2 with the loss. With the win, the Bruins also improved their record over UC Riverside to 14-0-0 all-time.
The Bruins got on the board in the 20th minute after they were awarded a penalty kick on a foul committed against senior Victor Chavez in the box. Stolz stepped up to take the kick for UCLA and buried it in the upper right-hand corner for his fifth goal of the year. He has now scored in four of the last five matches.
Neither side saw any chance for the next 24 minutes with much of that stretch being played in the midfield. But right before the half, UCLA went up by two with a great goal from Munoz. After UC Riverside headed the ball out of its own zone, Zerboni controlled it and put a great through ball into the box to Munoz. Munoz found himself on a breakaway and put a terrific chip over Highlander goalie K.C. John and into the empty net for his first of the year.
The Bruins carried that momentum into the second half, scoring another goal in the 49th minute. Stolz started the play by sending a ball to the wide right side to Zerboni. Zerboni then put a beautiful cross into the box to a wide open Vale, who finished the play with a great header to put UCLA up by three.
UC Riverside almost got one back in the 57th minute, when Ivan Garcia beat the UCLA defense and went streaking down the left side with the ball. He attempted to score far post, but Edwards made an outstanding diving stop to prevent the goal. Edwards came up big again in the 72nd minute, making two more terrific saves on back-to-back shots from Hector Romo to preserve the shutout. Eventually the Bruins would run out the clock to earn the 3-0 victory over the Highlanders.
Overall, the Bruins outshot UC Riverside 12-9 in the match while Edwards made four saves.
“We’re happy to have ended our non-conference schedule with a 3-0 win,” head coach Jorge Salcedo said. “Gage Zerboni had two great assists tonight, which shows that we have some good attacking depth on this team.”
The Bruins (5-2-1) will open up Pac-12 play next weekend, taking on San Diego State (3-4-0) on Saturday, October 5 at 12 p.m. The match will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.“We’re excited and anxious to start our conference schedule next weekend,” Salcedo added. “We realize that the Pac-12 is going to have one of the most challenging schedules in recent years and we look forward to it.”