Senior Victor Chavez got the Bruins on the board in the 19th minute and freshman Gage Zerboni scored the game-winner in the 70th minute as the fourth-ranked UCLA men’s soccer team kept pace in a tight Pac-12 race with a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Washington on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins moved to 8-3-4 with the win and are now 3-1-3 in Pac-12 play. Washington dropped to 11-1-4 with the loss and are now 4-1-2 in conference play. Before the match, UCLA honored its seven graduating seniors (Max Estrada, Ryan Lee, Victor Munoz, Patrick Matchett, Reed Williams, Victor Chavez, Joe Sofia) with a short ceremony.
Washington saw two great chances in the third minute, when Michael Harris sent in a long ball to box off a flip throw for the Huskies. Justin Schmidt was able to get a header on goal that looked to be going in, but senior Patrick Matchett made a terrific clearing header off the line to prevent the goal. Seconds later, Josh Heard attempted a volley that beat junior keeper Earl Edwards Jr., but again Matchett was in great position and headed the ball off the line to keep the match scoreless.
The Bruins would strike first in the 19th minute, starting when sophomore Jordan Vale took the ball on the left side of the box. He was able to dribble around his defender and laid off a nice back pass to Chavez, who turned and buried the ball in the far post for his sixth of the year. The match slowed down a bit from there, as both teams traded possession in the midfield. But then just before the half, Washington tied the match when James Moberg flicked the ball past Edwards off a scramble in the box from a long throw-in, tying things at 1-1 going into the locker room.
The Huskies came out with more intensity at the start of the second half and almost went ahead in the 60th minute. Darwin Jones was able to get around his man and crossed the ball to the middle to Mason Robertson, who turned and sent a dribbler towards a wide open net after Edwards came out. However, freshman Michael Amick stopped the ball on the line, allowing Edwards to come over and scoop up the ball to end the play.
In the 66th minute, Zerboni entered the match for the Bruins and immediately made his presence felt, nearly scoring in the 69th minute with a long-range shot from the top of the box before finally putting the Bruins ahead by one in the 70th minute. The play started when freshman Felix Vobejda outhustled the Washington defense to keep the ball in play on the endline. He then dropped it back to junior Leo Stolz, who one-timed a chip to the far post to Zerboni, who then headed the ball into an open net for the goal.
Washington continued to push men forward for the final 20 minutes, putting the Bruins back on their heels as the Huskies looked for the equalizer. But UCLA was up to the challenge, preventing the Huskies from finding the tying goal and going on to claim the 2-1 victory.
The match was played in front of a crowd of 1,952 people today, which marks a season-high for the Bruins at Drake Stadium. Additionally, UCLA had just five shots in the match but scored on two of them.
“It’s nice to have this hard-fought win over Washington after playing them up in Seattle and earning a tough draw,” head coach Jorge Salcedo said. “To come back down here and win the match is what we deserved. Our group over the past few games has had some difficult moments, but I am really proud of how we persevered and beat a good team that poses a lot of challenges today. We are going to move forward and still have a lot to play for. Hopefully today’s win will enhance our postseason resume as well.”
The Bruins (8-3-4, 3-1-3) will travel to the Bay Area next weekend to square off against Stanford (7-4-2, 1-3-1) on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. and No. 1 California (10-1-2, 4-0-1) on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. Both matches will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.
Watch Patrick Matchett's clearances off the line as well as UCLA's two goals from today