Top-Ranked Bruins Kick Off Regular Season At adidas/IU Credit Union Classic
Aug. 27, 2007
This Week -- The UCLA men's soccer team (ranked No. 1 by Soccer America, College Soccer News and CSTV and No. 2 by the NSCAA in its pre-season polls) will travel to Bloomington, IN to face fellow Top 10 teams Notre Dame (No. 9 by Soccer America, No. 10 by the NSCAA) and host Indiana (No. 7 by the NSCAA) at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. UCLA and Notre Dame will kick off the four-team tournament on Friday, Aug. 31 at 5 pm ET. The game will be followed by a match-up between Maryland (No. 7 by Soccer America, No. 9 by the NSCAA) and Indiana at 7:30 pm ET. On Sunday, Maryland and Notre Dame will face off at 11:30 am ET, followed by the UCLA-Indiana matchup at 2 pm. The UCLA-Indiana game will be televised by the Big Ten Network. Live stats via CSTV's Gametracker will be provided at Indiana's website, iuhoosiers.com.
UCLA Has History Of Success At IU Classic -- The Bruins hold an all-time record of 9-2-1 in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic with one tournament victory in 1996. The last time UCLA competed in the Classic, the Bruins posted a 5-0 win over Butler and a 2-1 win over Indiana in 2000. The Bruins also went unbeaten in tournament play in 1996 (1-0 wins over Indiana and SMU), 1992 (1-0 wins over Notre Dame and Indiana), 1985 (1-1 tie against UConn and 1-0 win over Indiana) and 1984 (2-1 wins over Clemson and Virginia).
Familiar Faces -- Several Bruins will be seeing familiar faces on the other side of the field on Sunday. After playing together this summer with the U.S. National Team at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, UCLA's Brian Perk and Tony Beltran will be matching up against Indiana's Ofori Sarkodie. Also matching up against each other will be former Pan American Games teammates Greg Folk, Chance Myers and Michael Stephens of UCLA and Indiana's Kevin Alston and Daniel Kelly.
Rusin Returns To Indiana -- Junior defender Brad Rusin returns to his former home state of Indiana. Rusin was a five-year Indiana ODP State team member and played at Valparaiso HS in the 2001-02 season. He also played for club teams North West Indiana United FC and Indianapolis Arsenal SC.
In The Rankings -- The Bruins are pre-season ranked No. 1 by Soccer America, College Soccer News and CSTV. The NSCAA/adidas Coaches' Poll has UCLA ranked No. 2, while Top Drawer Soccer picked UCLA No. 3.
Scouting The Fighting Irish -- Notre Dame, which is coached by Bobby Clark, posted a 15-6-2 record in 2006 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Fighting Irish are led by reigning M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner Joseph Lapira, who led the nation last season with 22 goals and 50 points. Six-foot-six goalkeeper Chris Cahill returns for his fifth season after recording 11 shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.77 in 2006.
History vs. Notre Dame -- UCLA holds a 3-0 all-time record against Notre Dame and last won by a 4-0 score in the 1994 UCLA Classic. The Bruins also posted wins in 1992 (1-0 at the Indiana Tournament) and 1987 (3-2 at the UCLA Classic).
Scouting The Hoosiers -- Seven-time NCAA champion Indiana went 15-4-3 last season and won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles before falling to Santa Clara on penalty kicks in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers, who are coached by Mike Freitag, return eight starters from last year's squad, including leading scorer Brian Ackley (7g, 5a) and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Darren Yeagle (7g, 2a). They also bring in a recruiting class that ranks No. 2 in the nation and boasts four All-Americans.
History vs. Indiana -- The series between UCLA and Indiana is knotted at 7-7. Indiana won the last meeting, 2-1, in the third round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles. UCLA's last win over Indiana came on Sept. 2, 2000, a 2-1 victory at the IU Classic. The Bruins are 4-2 all-time against the Hoosiers in Bloomington.
Bruins Tie NC State In Exhibition -- In its only pre-season tune-up before the regular season, UCLA tied North Carolina State, 2-2, in an exhibition contest in Raleigh, NC on Aug. 25. The Bruins started off the scoring with an 11th-minute goal from junior midfielder Jason Leopoldo after a steal. UCLA sophomore goalkeeper Brian Perk came up big with a penalty kick save in the 16th minute, but NC State eventually tied the game in the 28th minute. UCLA jumped back out ahead in the 44th minute on a goal by freshman forward Kyle McAthy, who scored on his first touch in his first minute of play, but the Wolfpack equalized in the 49th minute off a free kick.
Injury Updates -- The pre-season injury bug hit the Bruins again this year, although to a much lesser degree than last year. David Estrada underwent foot surgery last week for a fractured metatarsal that will put him out for up to three more weeks. Freshman Fernando De Alba suffered a dislocated knee and will also be out up to three weeks. Sean Alvarado and Edwige Ligonde are also recovering from pre-season surgeries. Alvarado (knee) is expected to be out another three weeks, while Ligonde (leg fractures) is expected to be out 5-7 weeks.
Zaher Named To Pre-Season All-America Team -- Senior defender Mike Zaher has been named a third-team pre-season All-American by College Soccer News. Last season, Zaher was a first-team All-Pac-10 and third-team NSCAA All-Far West selection. He led the Bruin defense to three post-season shutouts, including a 4-0 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Virginia and was voted the team's Defensive MVP. Offensively, he scored two goals with three assists for seven points, and he ranked second on the team in minutes played with 2,165.
About The Bruins -- UCLA enters the 2007 season with the purpose of improving upon last year's showing. While improving upon a performance that brought the Bruins all the way to the NCAA title game might seem like a heady task, the pre-season No. 1 Bruins have a deep and talented squad that features 22 returning players, including 17 with starting experience. Leading the charge are the team's top two goalscorers from last year - sophomore forward David Estrada (12g, 4a) and junior midfielder Jason Leopoldo (8g, 5a). Also back to kick-start the offense is junior forward Maxwell Griffin, who was leading UCLA in scoring with five goals before going down in the eighth game of the year with a knee injury. UCLA's midfield looks strong once again with the return of Leopoldo, second-leading assist man Kyle Nakazawa (4g, 8a), U.S. Under-20 National Team starter Tony Beltran and 2006 UCLA Rookie of the Year Michael Stephens (2g, 3a).
Defensively, three of the four starters from 2006 return, including All-Far West and first-team All-Pac-10 honoree Mike Zaher, Pan Am Games team captain Greg Folk, and two-time All-Pac-10 selection Brad Rusin. In addition, the Bruins return the services of veterans Brandon Owens and Edwige Ligonde, who both missed the 2006 season due to injury, and Pan Am Games starter Chance Myers. There is no drop-off in goal despite the loss of three-year starter Eric Reed. Taking over between the pipes is U.S. Under-20 National Team goalkeeper Brian Perk, who lost just one game in seven starts last season as a 17-year old freshman.
Bruins Go International In Off-Season -- Several members of the UCLA squad spent their summer representing the U.S. in international tournaments. Junior midfielder Tony Beltran and sophomore goalkeeper Brian Perk, along with former Bruin Sal Zizzo, helped lead the U.S. to the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada and posted big wins over Brazil, Poland and Uruguay. Beltran had the game-tying assist in the 6-1 win over Poland, and Perk came up big with seven saves in the 2-1 overtime win over Uruguay in the round of 16. In addition, senior defender Greg Folk, sophomore defender Chance Myers and sophomore midfielder Michael Stephens played for the U.S. at the Pan American Games in Brazil. Folk was the team captain, and Myers and Stephens started in all three games for the U.S. Earlier this month, Perk and Stephens traveled to Japan with the U.S. Under-18 National Team for the SBS Cup.
UCLA Selected No. 1 In Pac-10 Pre-Season Poll -- For the sixth consecutive season, UCLA has been picked to win the Pac-10 men's soccer title by the league's coaches. Defending Pac-10 champion California finished in a second-place tie with the Washington Huskies in the poll, three points behind UCLA. Rounding out the poll are Stanford, San Diego State and Oregon State.