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UCLA Men's Soccer: The Bruins Open Pac-12 Play at Home vs. SDSU Aztecs
The Bruins look to rebound after a 1-0 loss to #15 Loyola Marymount while the rebuilding Aztecs open their season with a new head coach.
The UCLA men’s soccer team kicks-off its conference schedule in 2021 by welcoming the San Diego State Aztecs to Wallis Annenberg Stadium this evening. Kickoff is at 6 pm PT.
The Bruins are coming off a 1-0 road loss last Friday against the Loyola Marymount Lions, who looked every part of their #15 national ranking. UCLA was scheduled to play Westmont last Monday, in a makeup of an earlier game that was not played due to COVID concerns, but that makeup game was also cancelled due to COVID concerns. So, the Bruins are done with their two-game non-conference schedule and move into Pac-12 play.
Last Time Out
Last Friday, UCLA was thoroughly outplayed by #15 Loyola Marymount. Although the score line was 1-0, the game was all Lions. LMU consistently threatened the UCLA goal, while the Bruins were toothless on the offensive end. The Lions dominated UCLA in shots, 11-2 and shots on frame, 6-1. Loyola Marymount outshot UCLA 8-0 in the first half with Ronaldo Brown finding the back of the net in the 31st minute, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
The Bruins’ only true chance was a good one and came off of a free kick in the 87th minute. Junior forward, Kevin Diaz, struck a curling left-footer on frame with pace from well outside the box and forced a spectacular diving save from LMU goalkeeper, Jacob Jackson, preserving the win. Jackson earned the clean sheet, while making only two saves.
As mentioned in the season preview, there are a lot of new faces at key positions within the UCLA squad. So, there will be some growing pains as the 2020-201 iteration of UCLA men’s soccer gels. Hopefully, as the campaign goes on, the team becomes better than the sum of its parts, resulting in a postseason berth.
San Diego State Aztecs
After a disappointing 4-12-2 (1-9 Pac-12) season, SDSU parted ways with Lev Krishner, its Head Coach for the last 23 years. Ryan Hopkins, formerly an assistant coach at Virginia, a men’s college soccer blueblood program, now takes over on the Aztecs’ touchline.
Hopkins has reeled in an impressive recruiting class consisting of 13 freshmen, which has been ranked as the #10 class by Top Drawer Soccer. The Aztecs will need contributions from those freshmen, as SDSU only returns four starters from last season.
Two of those starters, however, were instrumental in the Aztecs’ attack in 2019, with sophomore Hunter George looking to improve upon his five goals, which led the team. Senior Tevenn Roux also returns and he chipped in with three goals and four assists in 2019.
SDSU will have a new starter between the posts in 2021, as it appears that sophomore Tetsuya Kadona and freshman Aiden Hanes will battle for the leading goalkeeper position. Kadona played in four games last season, going 1-3, allowing nine goals, and making 17 saves.
UCLA was victorious in both of the matches between the Bruins and the Aztecs in 2019, with the Bruins prevailing 5-2 in Westwood, and ending the season with a 1-0 victory in San Diego
On paper, UCLA should win this game. But they will need a better effort than what they showed last week at LMU. A rebuilding Aztec program and a home game could be just what the Bruins are looking for. If UCLA wants to make the postseason in 2021, it will need to prevail in the winnable games at home and this is one such game.
UCLA Men’s Soccer (1-1-0)
Opponent: San Diego State Aztecs (0-0-0)
Game Time: 6:00 pm PT, Saturday, February 20, 2021
Where: Wallis Annenberg Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Live TV/Live Stream: None
This is your UCLA Men’s soccer versus San Diego State game thread.