UCLA came into the match ranked 15th in the nation and quickly showed CSUN its elite status. With two early goals in the first 13 minutes of the game, the Bruins outlasted the Matadors, 2-1, at Matador Field Wednesday night.
Opportunities arose in the second half with the Matador bench pushing the tempo, but the offense couldn’t pull off the comeback.
“It’s very disappointing from a staff standpoint,” CSUN head coach Terry Davila said. “It’s taking a toll on our team, mentally. The ‘almost’ starts getting old.”
UCLA struck first off a long throw-in deep in CSUN territory. A header by Bruin forward Victor Chavez in the fourth minute found its way past CSUN goalkeeper Joe Scachetti and gave UCLA the 1-0 lead.
Constant pressure by the Bruin offense earned them opportunities that would eventually pay off in the 14th minute. Chavez struck again off of a long throw-in but this time he used a bicycle kick to place the ball over Scachetti’s head and into the back of the net giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
The Bruin ball movement and tight passing kept the Matador offense quiet through most of the first half. A few chances by CSUN forward Thomas Ramos in the 26th and 30th minute kept them in the game.
Ramos’ first opportunity came off a corner kick in the 26th minute, but his header flew past the far post and out of play. The second chance came off a through-ball from fellow midfielder Alberto Rosas. The pass set up Ramos with a shot on goal, which went wide.
The Matadors got on the scoreboard in the 41st minute, converting a corner kick into a goal by forward Jeremy Hohn, the first of his career. After the Bruin goalkeeper’s deflection, CSUN midfielder Chris Smith placed a lob pass in front of the net where Hohn had the put back.
CSUN went into the second half knowing they’d have to push the tempo and that’s exactly what the offense did. The Matadors’ Rafael Garcia, Alberto Rosas, Gustavo Villalobos, and Ramos used ball placement to create numerous chances for them to tie up the match as well as keep the ball in UCLA’s half of the field. Garcia seemed to be everywhere on the field as his squad tried to draw even.
“(Garcia) is the type of player that you can build a program around,” Davila said. “(He) is the type of player that understands the game, understands the nuances of the game and he is a very important player.”
The back-and-forth battle for a potential game-changing goal continued throughout the second half as the increasing aggressiveness on the field was evident. Possession was about even on both sides of the pitch but the pressure was on CSUN to score the equalizer.
“We lacked a little bit of final touch on our final third,” Davila said. “But from an overall standpoint I thought we dominated the game(…) We played good enough soccer to win the game, but we just didn’t.”
Next up the Matadors will take on UC Riverside on Saturday at Matador Soccer Field. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.