UCLA Hosts Cal, Stanford With Pac-10 Title In Sight
Oct. 28, 2008
This Week -- Surging UCLA (7-4-5 overall, 5-1-1 in the Pac-10, ranked No. 23 by Soccer America and No. 25 by Soccer Times) hosts California (7-2-4, 2-1-2, ranked No. 8 by the NSCAA and No. 15 by Soccer America) on Friday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 pm and Stanford (3-8-2, 1-3-1) on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 pm. Both games will be held at Marshall Field at Drake Stadium and are the second game in a doubleheader with the third-ranked UCLA women's soccer team. The Bruin women host second-ranked Stanford on Friday at 5 pm and California on Sunday at Noon.
Live Coverage -- A free audio broadcast and Gametracker live stats will be available for all games this weekend at uclabruins.com.
Pac-10 Title In Sight -- Pac-10 leader UCLA could clinch the conference title this weekend with a pair of victories. Wins over both California and Stanford would give the Bruins an insurmountable 22 points with one conference game to play. UCLA currently has 16 points with a 5-1-1 conference record and three games to play. Washington is in second with 11 points and a 3-2-2 mark with three to play, while Cal has five games remaining and eight points with a 2-1-2 mark. A UCLA win over Cal on Friday would set the Bruins up to clinch the Pac-10 title outright with a win over Stanford or at least clinch a share of the title with a tie on Sunday.
Rivalry Bruin -- UCLA and Cal have been building up quite a rivalry in the past few years, with the two teams being the only Pac-10 schools to win the conference title in the last six seasons. UCLA won four straight from 2002-2005, and Cal has reeled off two straight Pac-10 titles in 2006 and 2007. The Bruins are in prime position to reclaim the Pac-10 title but will need to get through Cal to do so.
Scouting The Golden Bears -- California will be well-rested for Friday's game, coming off a bye week. Cal's last game was Oct. 18 against Stanford, a 1-0 overtime victory that gave head coach Kevin Grimes his 100th career win. Andrew Wiedeman leads the conference in points per game (1.23), Hector Jimenez is the assists/game leader with an average of 0.54, and All-American goalkeeper Stefan Frei continues to lead with a goals against average of 0.80 and shutouts/game average of 0.38.
UCLA's History With California -- UCLA leads the all-time series with the Golden Bears, 33-10-4. The Bruins captured the first game in the season series on Oct. 10 in Berkeley, 3-2 in overtime. UCLA led the Bears, 2-0, after goals by David Estrada and Maxwell Griffin. Cal came back to tie with two unanswered goals in the second half, but the Bruins quickly put an end to the game in the third minute of overtime, earning a penalty kick after a foul in the box. Michael Stephens scored the game-winning PK to give the Bruins the upset win over the then-sixth-ranked Bears.
The two teams split the season series last year, with the Bruins winning 1-0 on an 88th minute goal by Maxwell Griffin, and the Bears winning 3-1 in Berkeley. The matchups between UCLA and Cal have been high-scoring affairs in recent years. In the last 11 meetings, the teams have combined to score 40 goals (22 by UCLA, 18 by Cal).
Scouting The Cardinal -- Stanford has won just one game in its last nine games, but that one game was against the Bruins on Oct. 12, UCLA's only Pac-10 loss to date. Bobby Warshaw leads the Cardinal in scoring with seven points (3g, 1a). Tom Montgomery also has three goals. Goalkeeper John Moore holds a 1.04 GAA with two shutouts and ranks second in the Pac-10 with 51 saves.
UCLA's History With Stanford -- UCLA is 34-4-7 all-time against Stanford but has not won a game in series since Nov. 4, 2005, an overtime win at Stanford on a Maxwell Griffin goal in the 92nd minute. Stanford won the Oct. 12 contest in Palo Alto, 2-1, snapping UCLA's six-game unbeaten streak. Prince Lapnet scored his first collegiate goal to tie the game in the 29th minute, but Stanford's Clayton Holz scored the game-winner in the 75th minute, and goalkeeper John Moore made seven crucial saves in the game to preserve the victory.
Streaking Bruins -- UCLA has been on a roll in the last two weeks, winning its last four games via shutout. The four consecutive shutout wins are the most by a Bruin squad since a four-game streak from Oct. 20 to Nov. 4, 2005. The Bruins are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 games and are now ranked in the Top 25 in the Soccer America (23rd) and Soccer Times (25) polls. Goalkeeper Brian Perk has amassed a shutout streak of 369 minutes, and his five shutouts equal his single-season best set last year.
Rusin Earns National, Conference Honors -- UCLA senior defender Brad Rusin was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and earned selection to the National Teams of the Week for Soccer America, College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer. Rusin helped UCLA earn its fourth consecutive shutout victory with a strong defensive effort in road wins over Washington (2-0) and Oregon State (1-0). He also helped on the offensive end, scoring the game-winning goal in the first half of UCLA's 1-0 win over Oregon State. The goal was his third of the year, moving him into a tie for third on the squad in goals scored. He is fourth overall in scoring with seven points. Rusin had previously scored just one career goal entering this season.
Stephens Superlatives -- Junior midfielder Michael Stephens is making a strong push for Pac-10 Player of the Year honors with his Pac-10 leading 12 points in conference games. He is also tied for the lead in the Pac-10 with a career-high 18 points overall. Stephens has recorded a goal or assist in four consecutive games and in six of the Bruins' seven Pac-10 games, being shut out only at Stanford. He has been honored twice as the Pac-10 Player of the Week, the only player in the conference to earn multiple honors this year.
Leaders Of The Pac -- Several Bruins rank amongst the individual leaders in the Pac-10 Conference. Michael Stephens is tied for first in points (18) and tied for second in goals (7). Jason Leopoldo is tied for first in assists (7) and is tied for seventh in points (11). Griffin is tied for second in goals (7) and tied for fourth in points (16). Brad Rusin, Stephens and Griffin are tied for the Pac-10 lead with two game-winning goals. Kyle Nakazawa ranks third in the Pac-10 with 0.40 assists per game. Goalkeeper Brian Perk leads the conference with 54 saves and is tied for first with five shutouts.
Bruins Peaking At The Right Time -- After a difficult start to the season, the Bruins seem to be peaking at just the right time, going unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 games. Health has played a big factor in that, as UCLA regained the services of previously injured veterans Kyle Nakazawa (missed six games) and Sean Alvarado (played his first game in almost two years on Oct. 19) and has been able to get more minutes out of forward Prince Lapnet, who was limited earlier in the year due to injury. Also back at full strength is Luis Serrano, who missed five games early in the season due to injury.
Extra Time -- Of its 16 games played this season, UCLA has gone to overtime in seven of them. Five have gone the distance, resulting in ties, while two others have ended in the first overtime. The Bruins, who are 1-1-5 in overtime games, have played the equivalent of nearly one full game with two overtimes - 109 extra minutes. Three Bruins have logged over 1,400 minutes already this season - Michael Stephens with 1,507, Danny Suits with 1,492, and Jason Leopoldo with 1,415. Three others have played in over 1,300 minutes - Brad Rusin (1,390), Chris Cummings (1,381) and Brian Perk (1,331).
The Bruins' five ties this season match the school record set by the 1986 squad that finished 16-1-5. UCLA's last three ties have come while overcoming deficits. Against Cal State Northridge, the Bruins trailed 1-0 after 70 minutes before twice rallying to tie. UC Santa Barbara held a 1-0 halftime lead before UCLA scored twice in the second half, and the Bruins overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit against San Diego State and rallied twice to eventually tie 3-3.
Comeback Kids -- No lead is safe around this 2008 Bruin squad, who have scored goals in the final five minutes of regulation three times to send games to overtime. Brad Rusin did it against North Carolina with a goal to tie in the 86th minute. Against Cal State Northridge, it was Michael Stephens tying things up with a goal in the 85th minute, and Maxwell Griffin scored in the 88th minute against San Diego State to force extra time. Four of UCLA's five ties have come after opponents drew first blood.
Bruins Faced Five Of Last Six NCAA Champions -- UCLA's 2008 schedule pitted the Bruins against five of the last six NCAA champions. UCLA opened with four of its first five games against prior champions - Maryland (2005), Wake Forest (2007), North Carolina (2001), and Indiana (2003, 2004), and on Oct. 1, the Bruins hosted 2006 champion UC Santa Barbara. The only two championship teams from this decade that UCLA did not face are itself (2002 champions) and 2000 champion Connecticut.