The 10th-ranked UCLA men's soccer team (5-2-1) will begin its quest for its ninth Pac-12 championship this weekend, taking on San Diego State (3-4-0) in the Pac-12 opener on Saturday, October 5 at 12 p.m.
Live Coverage — The match this weekend will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks. Christian Miles will provide the play-by-play while Cobi Jones will provide the analysis. Fans can also listen to both matches through a live audio broadcast at uclabruins.com. John Ramey and Erin Cole will have the call live from Drake Stadium. Finally, live stats will be provided for the San Diego State match on uclabruins.com.
In The Rankings — The Bruins moved up three spots in the Soccer America poll to No. 9 and three spots in the NSCAA poll to No. 10. UCLA remained at No. 11 in the College Soccer News poll while moving up one spot to No. 9 in the Top Drawer Soccer poll. San Diego State is unranked in all polls.
Scouting the Aztecs — San Diego State enters Saturday's matchup with a record of 3-4-0 on the year. The Aztecs had a bye last weekend and have not played a match since Sept. 22. Senior midfielder Abraham Villon leads the team with five goals and 10 points on the season, with his five goals ranking first in the Pac-12 and his 10 points ranking third. Senior forward Jordan Ongaro is San Diego State's leader up front, scoring two goals in seven matches while junior midfielder Henrik Synnes has also scored two goals in seven matches. In goal, senior Blake Hylen looks to get the start, posting a 1.38 GAA and 28 saves in just over 650 minutes of action. Finally, head coach Lev Kirshner is in his 14th season as head coach of the Aztecs.
The Series with San Diego State — The Bruins have a record of 34-4-11 all-time against San Diego State. Last year, UCLA swept both matchups against the Aztecs, winning 4-3 down in San Diego before clinching the Pac-12 title against the Aztecs at home with a 2-1 win. In the first game in San Diego, senior Reed Williams scored twice to lead the Bruins while seniors Joe Sofia and Victor Chavez scored the other two goals. Then in the regular season finale in Los Angeles, the Bruins fell behind 1-0 before getting goals from Ryan Hollingshead and Williams to secure the come-from-behind victory. UCLA is unbeaten in their last 11 matches against the Aztecs, with its last loss to San Diego State coming on Oct. 6, 2007. The Bruins have also won the last six matches in the series.
Last Time Out — The Bruins played only one match last week, taking on UC Riverside on Thursday night at Drake Stadium. UCLA went on to win the match easily, dispatching the Highlanders by a score of 3-0. 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. Stolz got UCLA on the board first in the 20th minute, scoring on a penalty kick after a foul committed against senior Victor Chavez in the box. Munoz then made it 2-0 just before halftime with a beautiful chip over the keeper before Vale put the finishing touches on the win with a great header off a Zerboni cross in the 49th minute. With the win, the Bruins improved their record over UC Riverside to 14-0-0 all-time.
UCLA Picked To Win Pac-12 — In a polling of the Conference's men's soccer head coaches, UCLA has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 in 2013. The Bruins, searching for their fifth conference title in six years and ninth title overall, received the maximum 25 total points with five first-place votes. In the last five seasons, the Bruins have compiled a 38-5-7 conference mark, the best amongst the Pac-12 teams. UCLA has also won their last 14 Pac-12 road matches and has reached the NCAA Tournament in 30 consecutive seasons, the second-longest active streak in the nation.
Joe Sofia Selected as a Candidate for Senior CLASS Award — Senior defender Joe Sofia has been named as one of 30 men's soccer candidates for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. Sofia, a native of Dove Canyon, Calif., has upheld a 3.965 cumulative GPA in communication studies and is on track to graduate after the Fall quarter after just three years and one quarter. He has held the highest GPA among all of UCLA’s student-athletes since the spring of 2012 and has made the Director’s Honor Roll in every one of his quarters at UCLA (nine times in total). Sofia has been very active in the community as well, developing an anti-bullying curriculum with some fellow student-athletes that will be distributed to local middle schools later this fall. On the field, Sofia has played in 70 matches in his four-year career, starting 69 of them. Playing mostly at center back, he’s helped lead UCLA to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Pac-12 titles in 2011 and 2012, and the 2011 College Cup Semifinals.
Scoring Spree — Junior midfielder Leo Stolz has done a great job of finding the back of the net lately, scoring at least one goal in four of his last five matches. Stolz scored the game-winning goal in UCLA's 1-0 win over UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 13 before adding another in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime victory over San Diego on Sept. 15. After being held without a goal at UC Irvine on Sept. 19, the German midfielder punched in two more in UCLA's win at Cal State Northridge before burying a penalty kick against UC Riverside on Sept. 26 to bring his season total to five. Stolz is currently tied for the Pac-12 lead in goals (5) and game-winning goals (3) while leading the conference in points (12). His five goals are also 20th best in the nation. Last season, Stolz earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after registering eight assists.
Putting Up Zeroes — UCLA has shut out four of its eight opponents to start the season. Junior keeper Earl Edwards Jr. has been in goal for all four clean sheets, which matches his entire total from 2012. The backline of Patrick Matchett, Joe Sofia, Aaron Simmons and Javan Torre, along with freshmen defenders Michael Amick and Nathan Smith have also done a great job of limiting the opposition's opportunities.
Five Bruins On To TDS's "100 Players To Watch" List — Seniors Victor Munoz, Reed Williams and Joe Sofia, and juniors Leo Stolz and Aaron Simmons were all named to the Top Drawer Soccer "100 Players to Watch" list. Munoz came in at No. 49 while Williams was ranked No. 51. Stolz came in at No. 69 on the list while Simmons and Sofia were ranked No. 78 and No. 81 respectively.
Road Warriors — UCLA has posted a terrific record on the road in the last few seasons, going 17-1-4 in its last 22 road or neutral site matches. The Bruins went unbeaten on the road last season, going 8-0-2, and have started off the season with a 2-1-1 record in road and neutral site contests. Prior to Thursday's loss at UC Irvine, the Bruins had not lost a road or neutral site match since 2011.
Foreign Influence — The Bruins currently have four international members on its 2013 squad, the most the program has had since the late 1970's. Freshman Felix Vobejda (Germany), sophomore Jordan Vale (New Zealand), and juniors Victor Munoz (Spain) and Leo Stolz (Germany) make up UCLA's four international players. As mentioned above, Stolz leads the Bruins with five goals and 12 points on the season. Vobejda has appeared in all eight matches thus far, logging two assists in 326 minutes of action. Munoz, a 2011 honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, has played in all eight matches while recording one goal and one assist, while Vale has played in all eight matches, scoring his first UCLA goal last Thursday against UC Riverside.
Head Coach Jorge Salcedo — UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo is in his 10th season at the helm of the program, posting an all-time record of 123-47-29. He has coached UCLA to eight Pac-12 Titles as an assistant coach or head coach and is a four-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (co-coach in 2004, winner in 2008, 2011 and 2012). Salcedo has also led UCLA to two College Cup appearances and is the second-longest tenured men's soccer head coach in UCLA's NCAA history.
Reed Williams Named to MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List — UCLA senior forward Reed Williams has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2013 season. Williams is among 34 players and 13 forwards on the watch list. The senior from Newport Beach, Calif. was a third-team NSCAA All-Far West selection in 2012 and received first-team All-Pac-12 honors. He played in all 19 of UCLA’s matches last season, finishing tied for the team lead in goals with seven and second on the team in points with 18 (7 g, 4 a). Williams has played in all eight of UCLA's matches this season, scoring one goal in 334 minutes. The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. The recipients are selected by head coaches of NCAA Division I programs who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Defending Drake — The Bruins hold a record of 98-19-15 all-time at Drake Stadium, good for a .799 winning percentage. UCLA began playing its home games full-time at Drake Stadium in 2000.
Bruins on TV — The UCLA men's soccer team will continue to enjoy increased national exposure in 2013 with 12 games scheduled to be televised. 11 of those matches will be shown on the Pac-12 Networks, including seven home matches. The Big Ten Network televised UCLA's game at Indiana on Sept. 1 as well. Fans can find out if they get Pac-12 Networks by visiting Pac-12.com or by contacting their television provider.
Coming Up — UCLA will host top-ranked California and Stanford next week in a pair of key Pac-12 matchups. The Bruins will first play the Cardinal on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. before facing the Golden Bears on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. Both matches will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.