Pac-10 Champion Bruins Host Cal Poly In Final Regular Season Home Game
Nov. 4, 2008
This Week -- Pac-10 champion UCLA (8-4-6 overall, 6-1-2 in the Pac-10, ranked No. 19 by Soccer America and No. 22 by the NSCAA) hosts Big West leader Cal Poly (10-4-4, ranked No. 25 by Soccer America) on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 7 pm at Drake Stadium. The game is the last regular season home game for the Bruins and seniors Jason Leopoldo, Brad Rusin, Maxwell Griffin and Richard Flores. The Bruin senior class will be honored in pre-game ceremonies.
Live Coverage -- A free audio broadcast and Gametracker live stats will be available for Saturday's game at uclabruins.com.
Saturday's Senior Salute -- UCLA seniors Jason Leopoldo, Brad Rusin, Maxwell Griffin and Richard Flores will leave UCLA as two-time Pac-10 champions, 2006 NCAA finalists and four-time NCAA Tournament participants. Leopoldo has played in 72 games in his Bruin career and has totaled 12 goals and 15 assists. He was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection a year ago and earned All-Tournament honors at the 2006 College Cup. Rusin is a four-year starter and three-time all-conference selection who has played in 73 career games. He has had an outstanding season this year, totaling career-best numbers with three goals (two of which were game-winners) and seven points and leading the Bruin defense to six consecutive shutouts. Griffin has also posted career-best numbers this season with nine goals and 20 points. UCLA's leading scorer these past two seasons, Griffin has totaled 27 goals and 59 points in 67 career games. Flores, who first joined the Bruins in 2004, has played in 39 career games, scoring three goals. He was a member of three Pac-10 championship squads.
Pac-10 Champions -- UCLA won its sixth Pac-10 title in the nine years that the Pac-10 has sponsored men's soccer. The Bruins clinched the victory on Sunday with two weeks left to play in the season after a 2-0 win over Stanford coupled with a 1-0 loss by California to San Diego State. UCLA has 20 points in conference play with one game to play. Washington can mathematically tie UCLA for first if it wins its remaining three games, but UCLA owns the tiebreaker with a 2-0 record over Washington in head-to-head action.
NCAA Tournament Bound -- UCLA became the first school in 2008 to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth, which will be the 26th consecutive and 36th overall for the Bruins. UCLA has an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 60-32 with national championships in 1985, 1990, 1997 and 2002. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced live on Monday, Nov. 17 at 2:30 pm PT on ESPNEWS.
Scouting The Mustangs -- Cal Poly faces UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 5 prior to facing the Bruins. A Mustang win would clinch its first Big West regular season title. Cal Poly is coming off a 2-0 win over 11th-ranked UC Davis, during which Kyle Montgomery scored just 22 seconds into the match and goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco stopped a penalty kick in the 80th minute. David Zamora leads the Mustangs in scoring with seven goals and 14 points, and Julian Alvarez also has 14 points off five goals and four assists. Branagan-Franco owns a goals against average of 0.84 with seven shutouts.
UCLA's History With Cal Poly -- UCLA leads the all-time series with the Mustangs, 8-0-2. The two teams last met in 1998, with UCLA capturing a 2-0 road win. The Bruins have won eight straight in the series, with the two ties coming in 1967 and 1968.
Streaking Bruins -- UCLA has been on a roll in the last three weeks, allowing zero goals and going unbeaten in its last six games. The six consecutive shutouts are the most by a Bruin squad since a six-game streak from Oct. 14 to Nov. 4, 2005 and rank No. 3 on UCLA's all-time list for consecutive shutouts. UCLA has not allowed a goal in 576 consecutive minutes. The Bruins are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 games and have moved up in the rankings to No. 19 in the Soccer America poll. Goalkeeper Brian Perk has amassed a shutout streak of 569 minutes, and his seven shutouts are a career high.
Griffin Honored -- Senior forward Maxwell Griffin was selected as Soccer America's National Player of the Week after scoring both goals in UCLA's Pac-10 clinching 2-0 win over Stanford. Griffin was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week and earned UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week honors. UCLA's leading scorer, Griffin also leads the conference in points (career-best 20 points), goals scored (nine) and game-winning goals (three).
Leaders Of The Pac -- Several Bruins rank amongst the individual leaders in the Pac-10 Conference. Maxwell Griffin leads in points (20), goals (9) and game-winning goals (3). Michael Stephens is tied for second in points (18) and tied for third in goals (7). Jason Leopoldo is tied for first in assists (7) and is tied for 10th in points (11). Brad Rusin and Stephens are tied for second with two game-winning goals. Kyle Nakazawa is tied for second in the Pac-10 with 0.40 assists per game. Goalkeeper Brian Perk leads the conference with 64 saves and seven shutouts and ranks second with a 1.00 GAA.
Bruins Peaking At The Right Time -- After a slow start to the season, the Bruins are finishing strong, going unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 games. UCLA's young backline has gotten the opportunity to gel, resulting in a six-game shutout streak. Health has also played a big factor in the Bruins' reversal of fortune, as UCLA regained the services of previously injured veterans Kyle Nakazawa (missed a total of eight games) and Sean Alvarado (played his first game in almost two years on Oct. 19 and started and had a strong game on Nov. 2 against Stanford). Also back at full strength is Luis Serrano, who missed five games early in the season due to injury.
Extra Time -- Of its 18 games played this season, UCLA has gone to overtime in eight of them. Six have gone the distance, resulting in ties, while two others have ended in the first overtime. The Bruins, who are 1-1-6 in overtime games, have played the equivalent of over one full game with two overtimes - 129 extra minutes. Six Bruins have logged over 1,500 minutes already this season - Michael Stephens (1,690), Danny Suits (1,682), Jason Leopoldo (1,595), Brad Rusin (1,590), Chris Cummings (1,581) and Brian Perk (1,531).
The Bruins' six ties this season are a new school record, breaking the record set by the 1986 squad that finished 16-1-5. Half of UCLA's 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 has 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.
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.
Fresh Faces -- UCLA entered the season with 12 new players, including 11 true freshmen. The incoming class, which was rated the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation by College Soccer News, has made a big impact, with eight players seeing action in at least 10 games and four defensive-minded players (Chris Cummings - 17, Andy Rose - 14, Luis Serrano - 12, Zack Zerrenner - 11) making at least 10 starts.