The third-ranked UCLA men’s soccer team scored a big victory on Sunday afternoon, taking down top-ranked California, 2-1, in Berkeley, Calif. Freshman Kevin De La Torre put the Bruins ahead with a goal in the 43rd minute before junior Leo Stolz scored the game-winner in the 70th minute.
With the win, the Bruins moved into first in the Pac-12 with a 5-1-3 conference record, good for 18 points. UCLA has one conference match remaining while Washington (4-1-2) and California (5-1-1) each have three. The Bruins are now 10-3-4 overall while the Golden Bears dropped to 11-2-2 with the loss. Additionally, Cal was the fourth top-five opponent that the Bruins have defeated this season, joining Indiana, Cal State Northridge and Washington.
UCLA had a great chance in the 25th minute when senior Victor Munoz took a pass at the top of the box and put a shot on goal. His shot hit the crossbar though and the match stayed tied 0-0. Then in the 42nd minute, freshman Felix Vobejda had a shot to put the Bruins ahead when Cal keeper Robby Gogatz got caught out of the net, allowing Vobejda to volley a shot towards the empty goal. The Golden Bears got back though and cleared the ball off the line to keep the match scoreless.
Finally in the 43rd minute, De La Torre got the Bruins on the board with his second goal of the year. Senior Joe Sofia put a long throw-in into the box and after a scramble, De La Torre was able to come up with the ball and one-time it into the net to put UCLA on top 1-0 going into the half. UCLA’s back line did a great job in the first half of limiting Cal’s opportunities while junior keeper Earl Edwards Jr. was able to keep the Golden Bears scoreless.
UCLA kept up the intensity at the start of the second half and once again Munoz almost put one in the back of the net in the 52nd minute when he uncorked a twisting shot to the far post. However, Justin Talliloe, who entered the match in goal at halftime for Cal, made a tough diving save to deny Munoz. Then in the 70th minute, Stolz put the Bruins ahead by two when he gathered a pass from Munoz at the top of the box and buried a shot into the upper-right hand corner for his seventh of the year.
California answered less than a minute later, when Alec Sundly scored on a bicycle kick to cut UCLA’s lead to one. The Bruin defense took over from there though, continually stopping the Golden Bear attack and not allowing California to see a serious chance. Time would eventually run out on the Golden Bears and UCLA earned the 2-1 victory.
Overall, California outshot the Bruins slightly by a 14-11 margin while Edwards made five saves to pick up his 10th win of the season. Munoz also picked up his eighth assist of the year in the match, which is a conference best.
“It was a great game by both teams,” head coach Jorge Salcedo. “Both Cal and ourselves played one of the best matches in the conference this season. Our second goal in particular was a very good team goal and a fantastic finish from Leo Stolz. Our guys showed a lot of grit and determination to win up in Berkeley and I’m very proud of their effort and their resiliency. Now we just have to sit back and see what happens. We need a little bit of help, but we know that anything can happen in our conference with the number of quality of teams in it. We’ll see if the results fall in our favor and if they do, hopefully we’ll be playing for a Pac-12 Championship against San Diego State.”The Bruins (10-3-4, 5-1-3) have a bye next week and will return to the pitch on Saturday, Nov. 16 to play San Diego State on the road in the regular season finale. The match will start at 7 p.m.