UCLA Men's Soccer: Bruins Visit Loyola Marymount
UCLA is coming off a 3-0 win over USF, while LMU plays is first regular season game of the 2020-2021 campaign.
This evening, the UCLA men’s soccer team takes a short road trip down the 405 Freeway to face the #15-ranked Loyola Marymount Lions. Kickoff is at 6 pm PT. UCLA is coming off a solid 3-0 showing versus the San Francisco Dons on Monday, while the Lions are taking the field for their first regular season game versus the Bruins.
Last Time Out
UCLA faced the University of San Francisco on Monday, with UCLA nursing a 1-0 lead for most of the game and then putting things away with two scores in the final 19 minutes. UCLA fielded a team that mixed old and new faces, including numerous appearances from more than half of UCLA’s eleven player 2020 recruiting class. In fact, UCLA Head Coach Ryan Jorden started four of the new faces, forwards Kevin Diaz and Grayson Doody, and defenders Ahmed Longmire and Tommy Silva.
Those four showed well, with Doody, Silva, and Diaz notching assists. Longmire and Silva also helped the backline to preserve a clean sheet. Two other new players made appearances for the Bruins, with one, Pablo Greenlee, scoring UCLA’s second goal in the 72nd minute.
Senior right back Ben Reveno got the Bruins on the board in the 8th minute and UCLA clung to that lead for most of the game until Greenlee found the back of the net. Sophomore Riley Ferch, who now wears the #10 jersey, sealed the game for the Bruins, with a strike in the 88th minute.
Goalkeeper Justin Garces was not tested much, saving the two shots he faced, earning the clean sheet. UCLA outshot USF 13-6 and the Dons did not record a shot in the 2nd half.
With all the new faces, it was tough to predict who would play. If the USF game is any indication, it appears that the backline is pretty much set, consisting of newcomers Silva and Longmire at left back and central defender, respectively, and senior Reveno and junior Eirik Baekkelund at right back and central defender, respectively. Each of those players was on the field for 80 minutes or more, with Longmire going the full 90.
The Lions were supposed to have played three exhibition games ahead of their season opener versus the Bruins. Instead, due to COVID-19 issues, they have only played one, a scoreless draw versus Hope International University. I’m not sure much can be read into that result as LMU used 23 different players in the game.
Loyola Marymount returns several key players from a team that went 11-6-3 last season, earning a trip to the postseason, where the Lions lost at home to Seattle, 3-1, in the first round. The Lions are the preseason favorite to win the West Coast Conference, according to a poll of the WCC coaches.
Perhaps the most important returning player is goalkeeper Jacob Jackson. Last season, Jackson, while still a redshirt freshman, played in 16 games, allowing only 16 goals, making 55, and recording nine clean sheets. The nine clean sheets ranked Jackson 10th best in the nation.
The Lions also return their top goal scorer from 2019, junior forward and Jamaican international Duhaney Williams, who found the back of the net five times and also assisted on three other goals. Junior midfielder and Swiss international, Bastien Oberli, also returns. Oberli scored four goals and assisted on two in 2019, and is one of three Lions on the All West Coast Conference preseason team.
#15 Loyola Marymount is not a team that the unranked UCLA Bruins should be taking lightly. LMU went to the postseason last year and return a fair amount of components from that team. The Lions, however, did not score a lot of goals in 2019, just 29 goals in 20 games and, if their exhibition against Hope International is an indication of anything, LMU might be challenged in the scoring department this season. But the Lions could have a stout defense. The other two Lions on the All-WCC Preseason Team are a defender, senior Gerardo Lopez, and a defensive midfielder, sophomore Noel Caliskan.
Still, I predict that UCLA wins a close one this evening, 1-0, in a mild upset.
UCLA Men’s Soccer (1-0-0)
Opponent: #15 Loyola Marymount Lions (0-0-0)
Game Time: 6:00 pm PT, Friday, February 12, 2021
Where: Sullivan Field, Los Angeles, CA
Live TV/Audio: None
Live Stream: WatchStadium.com
Live Stats: LMU StatBroadcast
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