The 13th-ranked UCLA men's soccer team (4-2-1) will play its final non-conference match of the year, taking on the UC Riverside Highlanders (5-0-2) on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. out at Drake Stadium.
Live Coverage — Fans can follow the UC Riverside match through a live audio broadcast on uclabruins.com. John Ramey and Erin Cole will have the call live from Drake Stadium. Fans can also follow the match through a live stats link on uclabruins.com.
In The Rankings — The Bruins came in this week at No. 10 in the Top Drawer Soccer poll, No. 11 in the College Soccer News poll, No. 12 in the Soccer America poll and No. 13 in the NSCAA poll. UC Riverside is unranked in all polls.
Scouting the Highlanders — UC Riverside enters Thursday's matchup with a 5-0-2 record on the year and a 1-0-2 record in its last three matches. The Highlanders are led by freshman midfielder Romario Lomeli, who has appeared in all seven of UC Riverside's matches (one start), scoring three goals and recording a team-high seven points. Senior midfielder Aaron Long is tied with Lomeli for the team lead in goals with three while senior forward Ivan Garcia leads the Highlanders up front with two goals and two assists. In goal, junior K.C. John will most likely get the start on Thursday. The Harrisville, Utah native has started all seven matches for UC Riverside and has posted a 0.54 GAA.
The Series with UC Riverside — UCLA and UC Riverside have met 13 times in their history with the Bruins winning all 13 of those matchups. The two sides last met back in 2010, where the Bruins claimed a 2-1 victory in overtime over the Highlanders. Current seniors Reed Williams and Victor Chavez, playing as freshmen in that match, scored the two goals for UCLA in the win. Williams scored in the 80th minute off an assist from Chavez while Chavez ended the match with a golden goal in the third minute of overtime. Senior Joe Sofia and redshirt junior Andrew Tusaazemajja played in that match as well. Head coach Jorge Salcedo is 3-0 all-time against UC Riverside.
Last Time Out — The Bruins split their two road matches last week, falling to UC Irvine on Thursday before picking up a big win at No. 3 Cal State Northridge on Sunday night. UCLA dropped a 3-1 decision to the Anteaters on Thursday night, snapping the Bruins' 20-match road unbeaten streak. Senior Reed Williams scored UCLA's only goal of the match in the 74th minute off an assist from fellow senior Victor Chavez. Enrique Cardenas scored two goals on penalty kicks to lead UC Irvine. Then on Sunday, the Bruins went off for four goals to score their second victory over a top-five team this season, earning a 4-2 win over Cal State Northridge. Junior Leo Stolz got the scoring started for UCLA in the 44th minute, converting on a penalty kick after a foul on Williams in the box. Chavez then made it 2-0 in the 51st minute with a beautiful header in the box off a long ball from senior Ryan Lee. After the Matadors got one back a couple of minutes later, Stolz scored his second goal of the match to put the Bruins back up by two. Senior Max Estrada came out of a scrum with the ball and dropped it off to Stolz at the top of the box. Stolz took two touches and fired a shot far post for the goal. Chavez would add his second goal of the match in the 85th minute to cap off UCLA's victory.
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.
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 69 matches in his four-year career, starting 68 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 four goals in his last four 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 Sunday's win at Cal State Northridge to bring his season total to four goals. Stolz currently leads the Bruins in goals and points (9) on the season, while ranking third in the Pac-12 in both categories. Last season, Stolz earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after registering eight assists.
Putting Up Zeroes — UCLA has shut out three of its seven opponents to start the season. Junior keeper Earl Edwards Jr. has been in goal for all three clean sheets, which is one shutout shy of 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.
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.
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 four goals and nine points on the season. Vobejda has appeared in all seven matches thus far, logging two assists in 289 minutes of action. Munoz, a 2011 honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, has started all seven matches while recording one assist while Vale has played in all seven matches while logging 419 minutes.
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 122-47-29. 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 seven of UCLA's matches this season, scoring one goal in 291 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 97-19-15 all-time at Drake Stadium, good for a .798 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 — The Bruins open up conference play next weekend, taking on San Diego State on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. out at Drake Stadium. The match will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.