LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The UCLA men's soccer team has earned the preseason No. 7 ranking from College Soccer News, as announced by the publication today.
The Bruins, who won their fourth Pac-12 title in five years and eighth overall in 2012, return six starters from last year's squad that went 13-3-3 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the 30th consecutive year. Leading UCLA up front will be senior Reed Williams, who was a third-team NSCAA All-West Region selection and a first-team All-Pac-12 honoree in 2012. Williams finished tied for the team lead in goals with seven last year and was second in points with 18 (7g, 4a).
Joining Williams up front will be fellow senior Victor Chavez, who was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2012 after scoring five goals for the Bruins. Returning in the midfield is junior Leo Stolz (0g, 8a), who earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors a year ago, and sophomore Grady Howe, who played in all 19 games in 2012 and earned College Soccer News Freshman All-America honors. Senior Victor Munoz (1g, 5a) is back as well and will provide an offensive spark in the midfield.
Senior Joe Sofia (2g, 4a) returns to anchor the defense after leading the team in minutes while junior Earl Edwards Jr. enters his second year as a starter in goal. Other returning contributors are senior defender Patrick Matchett, who battled injuries in 2012 but has started 39 games in his UCLA career, and senior forward Max Estrada, who scored three goals in 18 games in 2012. Sophomore defender Javan Torre will also look to make an impact on defense after participating in the FIFA U-20 World Cup with the U.S. U-20 National Team this past summer.
Each of these players will be joined by an incoming freshman class that was the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country. The freshman class features four players who were ranked in the top 25 in College Soccer News's list of Top Recruits for the 2013 season, including six players who have experience playing with their respective Youth National Teams. Overall, three transfers - Edgar Contreras (D), Jordan Vale (MF) and Aaron Simmons (D) - and eight incoming freshman - Michael Amick (D), Gregory Antognoli (F), Kevin De La Torre (F), Michael Griswold (D/MF), Willie Raygoza (MF), Nathan Smith (D), Gage Zerboni (F) and Brian Iloski (MF) will join the Bruins this fall.
UCLA will begin the 2013 season at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind., where the Bruins will take on 11th-ranked Notre Dame on Friday, Aug. 30 before facing No. 1 ranked and defending NCAA champion Indiana on Sunday, Sept. 1.
2013 College Soccer News Preseason Poll
5. North Carolina
10. Saint Louis
11. Notre Dame
12. San Diego
13. UC Santa Barbara
17. Coastal Carolina
18. Wake Forest
20. New Mexico
21. St. John's
25. Michigan State
30. Fairleigh Dickinson