The Bruins were golden once again, this time courtesy of redshirt freshman midfielder Tucker Lepley.
On a brisk Friday night in Westwood, coach Ryan Jorden and his squad posted their first clean sheet since Sept. 16 en route to a conference victory. UCLA men’s soccer (7-4-0, 3-2-0 Pac-12) spent the night attempting different tactics and sending a barrage of shots, finally overcoming San Diego State (6-3-2, 2-3-0) in overtime with a 1-0 result.
Through the first half against the Aztecs, the Bruins were only able to create one clear path to an early scoring chance. In the 39th minute, graduate midfielder Yoni Sorokin sent a pass in towards junior defender Constantinos Michaelides, but his effort came up just short of giving the Bruins an advantage when Aztec goalkeeper Jacob Castro came in with a sliding save.
San Diego State attempted three shots compared to four by UCLA, but neither side was able to exchange their chances for a goal.
The second half provided the Bruins with six shots and more opportunities at scoring, but the Aztecs’ defense once again stymied every possibility of a go-ahead goal.
The scoreless 90 minutes sent UCLA to overtime for the first time since April 17 versus Cal last spring.
The entire overtime period, which lasted just under eight minutes in total, was all Bruins.
The Bruins overpowered the Aztecs’ backline, with both freshman defender Pietro Grassi and redshirt freshman forward Jose Contell getting clear chances at scoring. As had been the case throughout regulation, however, neither could not get one into the net.
The game-deciding strike came in the 98th minute when junior midfielder Riley Ferch collected the ball just outside the box after a tackle. He sent a pass through to Lepley, who powered the ball past Castro and into the back-right corner of the net.
The home crowd let out a loud cheer, signaling a win at last after UCLA’s 0-2 road trip against Oregon State and Washington last weekend.
Senior goalkeeper Justin Garces had an answer for every challenge San Diego State presented in the match, tallying three key saves to keep the opposition off the board.
UCLA put together 16 shots total, eight of which were on goal. On the other side of the pitch, San Diego State tallied six shots and three on goal. Both teams were penalized a fair bit throughout the match, with the Aztecs having four yellow cards and the Bruins having three across their lineup.
The result gives UCLA their seventh win of the season, already four more than they had in their delayed 2020 campaign and one more than they had in Jorden’s debut 2019. Next on the agenda is a non-conference matchup against Loyola Marymount on Thursday night at 7 p.m.