Aztecs Play UCLA to 1-1 Draw
LOS ANGELES – The Aztec men's soccer team (0-0-1) played UCLA (1-1-1) to a 1-1 draw on the road Saturday evening.
UCLA struck first, scoring in the 73rd minute, and then SDSU's Blake Bowen tied it up five minutes later after redirecting a free kick.
The Aztecs held a 15-8 advantage in shots, including an 8-1 edge in the first half, and only allowed two UCLA shots on goal.
"I'm really proud of the performance the guys put out tonight after a layoff of 463 days," head coach Ryan Hopkins said. "They fought together, stayed organized, and most importantly, believed they should've won the game."
The Aztecs had the first six shots of the match and held the Bruins to just one first half shot, which wasn't on goal, while SDSU had eight. Hunter George had four of SDSU's first half shots and put three on goal.
SDSU's and George's best first half opportunity came in the 44th minute when he nearly netted a header in the bottom right corner before Bruins' goalkeeper Justin Garces was able to bat the ball away just before it crossed the end line.
"We felt we controlled the game with our press and really came to life in the first half when we started igniting our re-press," Hopkins explained.
SDSU almost caught a break in the 63rd minute, when a Bruin defender attempted to clear an Aztec corner kick and misplayed the ball backwards, nearly resulting in an own goal.
The Bruins got on the board in the 73rd minute when Ollie de Visser scored inside the far post. It was UCLA's first shot on goal.
Five minutes later, the Aztecs responded on a free kick from 30 yards when Blake Bowen redirected Iñigo Villaldea's kick with a header.
There wasn't a shot on goal in extra time until the 107th minute when UCLA's Ruben Soria had a strike ricochet off the crossbar.
In the final minute it appeared Austin Wehner had scored the game-winner but was whistled for offsides.
The Aztecs collected four yellow cards with Bryson Hankins, Elias Katsaros, Iñigo Villaldea and Blake Bowen picking up cautions. UCLA was issued two yellows, both coming in the first period of extra time.
Goalkeeper Tetsuya Kadono collected one save while UCLA's Justin Garces had three saves.
STAT OF THE MATCH
UCLA only had two shots on goal.
Four freshmen started for the Aztecs: Bryson Hankins, Elias Katsaros, Iñigo Villaldea and Andre Ochoa.
QUOTE OF THE MATCH
"The trademarks of our culture this year will be our resiliency and adaptability, both of which were on full display tonight. The moment wasn't too big for our eight underclassmen starters, who put in a big time performance. We got great leadership from the older players as well. It was just amazing to see the guys competing and smiling together." Head coach Ryan Hopkins
The Aztecs will host Stanford for their first home match next Saturday (Feb. 27) at 6 p.m.