For the second straight match, the UCLA men’s soccer team left it to the last minute, getting a goal from junior Aaron Simmons with just over a minute to play to defeat the Stanford Cardinal, 1-0, in front of a crowd of 1,092 at Drake Stadium.
The win was UCLA’s fourth straight and improved the Bruins’ record to 7-2-1 overall and 2-0-0 in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal dropped to 6-3-1 overall and 1-2-0 in Pac-12 play with the loss. Additionally, it was UCLA’s sixth consecutive win over Stanford and the 100th win for the program at Drake Stadium.
Neither side was able to muster a shot for the first 20 minutes as both teams traded possession in the midfield. Stanford's Jimmy Callinan then put the first shot of the match on net in the 21st minute, but junior goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. was there to make the leaping stop. The Bruins outshot the Cardinal, 4-2, in the first half, but neither team could come up with any serious chances and the teams went into the locker room tied at 0-0.
At the start of the second half, Stanford saw a golden opportunity when Jordan Morris took a cross in the box and chested the ball on goal. Edwards held his ground though and made a terrific diving save to deny Morris of a goal. Edwards came up big again in the 61st minute, when Zach Batteer took a through ball in the box from Aaron Kovar and slotted a shot towards goal. Edwards came out though and made a sliding save to keep the match level at 0-0.
The two sides again traded possession for the next 28 minutes with neither side able to generate a serious chance. Then with the match looking headed for overtime, Simmons put the Bruins ahead for good with his first career UCLA goal. Senior Ryan Lee started the play with a great cross from the left side of the field to the far post. Simmons then out-jumped the Stanford defense before heading the ball off of two Stanford defenders and into the back of the net for the goal. Time would eventually run out on the Cardinal from there and UCLA walked away with the one-goal win.
Overall, the Bruins outshot Stanford, 9-6, while Edwards made three saves to earn his fifth clean sheet of the year.
“Tonight’s win was a really hard fought match,” head coach Jorge Salcedo stated after the match. “Stanford played a good game and came in with a great gameplan that made it difficult for us. They continually looked to counter and I thought our guys did a really good job of defending the counter and their two strikers. At the end of the day, the goal comes from Aaron Simmons battling in the air like he had all night. There was a little bit of luck involved, but we created our own luck tonight and got the victory.”The sixth-ranked Bruins (7-2-1, 2-0-0) will welcome the No. 1 team in the country to Westwood on Sunday afternoon, playing the California Golden Bears (7-0-2, 1-0-1) at 1 p.m. at Drake Stadium. The match will be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.