UCLA Hosts CSU Bakersfield In Sunday Afternoon Exhibition Game

Aug. 20, 2009

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This Week -- The preseason No. 17 UCLA men's soccer team will tune up for the 2009 season with a pair of exhibition games. The first exhibition game will take place on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 3 pm against CSU Bakersfield. The second exhibition game on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 4 pm is a battle between two of the West Coast's top teams last year - UCLA and UC Irvine. Both games will take place at the North Athletic Field. Admission is free.

Live Coverage -- Gametracker livestats will be available for all UCLA home games, including both exhibition games.

In The Rankings -- UCLA is ranked No. 17 in the NSCAA and College Soccer News pre-season polls and No. 20 in the Top Drawer Soccer poll.

Scouting The Roadrunners -- CSU Bakersfield is in its last year of transition to NCAA Division I status and will be playing in the MPSF for the first time this season. Playing mostly road games last season, the Roadrunners went 4-13. Twelve letterwinners return from that squad.

Scouting The Anteaters -- UC Irvine advanced to a program-best third round of the NCAA Championships last season and finished the year with a 15-2-6 record. The defending Big West champion Anteaters are ranked No. 15 in the NSCAA preseason poll. Amongst the returning players for UC Irvine is All-American senior Irving Garcia, who scored 23 points on seven goals and nine assists last year.

Senior Leadership -- For the first time in Jorge Salcedo's tenure as head coach, the Bruins can truly call themselves a veteran team, with a substantially large senior class of eight, the largest senior class at UCLA since 2003. Leading the way are six returning senior starters - midfielder Michael Stephens, goalkeeper Brian Perk, midfielder Kyle Nakazawa, forward David Estrada, and defenders Danny Suits and Luis Serrano - as well as defender Sean Alvarado and midfielder Andrew Sinderhoff. Stephens is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, while Perk, Estrada and Suits were all-conference selections. Nakazawa was a preseason All-America selection before injuries limited him to just 10 games last season.

Stephens, Nakazawa Named To M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List -- Senior midfielders Michael Stephens and Kyle Nakazawa were named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List. Stephens, a midfielder from Naperville, Ill., is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year and a member of Soccer America's MVPs Second Team. Last season, he led the Pac-10 in points scored (23) and tied for the league lead in assists with nine, including a school record tying four at San Diego State. He also became the first Pac-10 men's soccer player ever to earn Player of the Week honors three times in one season. Stephens has spent his offseason playing with the U.S. Under-20 National Team. Nakazawa, a midfielder from Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., was also on the Watch List a year ago. He had his 2008 season cut short due to injuries, playing in 10 games yet still ranking fourth on the team in assists with four. He also had one goal and has amassed eight goals and 18 assists in his career. Nakazawa was UCLA's Team MVP in 2007 and was selected to Soccer America's All-Freshman team in 2006.

Fresh Faces -- A year after bringing in 12 new players, the Bruins welcome eight new faces to the squad in the form of seven freshmen and a junior walk-on. This year's freshman class was rated the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation by both Soccer America and College Soccer News. Leading the class is Top Drawer Soccer's No. 1 recruit in the nation, Amobi Okugo, who is also a member of the U.S. Under-20 and Under-18 National Teams. Also joining the Bruins are U.S. Under-18 National Team player Michael Roman and ESPN/Rise All-Americans Dakota Collins, Chandler Hoffman and Evan Raynr.

Off-Season Happenings -- Bruin players were busy in the off-season, with Brian Perk and Michael Stephens seeing regular action with the U.S. Under-20 National Team. Perk has been dominant as the starting goalkeeper on the Under-20 National Team, posting seven shutouts in eight games, with a 0.12 goals against average in 2009. Stephens has seen action in four games this year and scored two goals. Both players traveled to Egypt and Argentina this summer with the U.S. team.

Freshman Amobi Okugo traveled to Northern Ireland with the U.S. Under-18 National Team to participate in the Milk Cup and also played with the U-18s in the Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal.

Sophomore Eder Arreola led the Cherif Zein Elite 17-under boys' soccer team to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship in late July, scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over North Carolina's Triangle United to help his team capture the Don Greer Cup. Arreola's goal in the 26th minute gave his squad a 3-0 lead, and CZ Elite held on for the 3-2 win. Arreola dominated in the tournament, leading all goal scorers with five goals.

Looking Ahead -- UCLA opens the 2009 regular season at defending NCAA champion Maryland on Friday, Sept. 4. This is the second season in a row the Bruins will face the defending NCAA champions on the road.

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