Men's Soccer Opens 2021 Season Against Lipscomb
Bruins Open 2021 Season Against Lipscomb
After two wins in as many preseason exhibitions, the UCLA men's soccer team officially begins the 2021 campaign this week with home contests against Lipscomb (Thursday, Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m.) and San Francisco (Sunday, Aug. 29, 3:00 p.m.). Sunday's contest will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks. Live stats will be available for both contests, via UCLAlivestats.com, and fans can also follow along with live updates from the team Twitter account, @UCLAMSoccer.
UCLA in Season Openers
The Bruins are 40-8-6 all-time in season openers for the years in which results are available. UCLA is unbeaten in its last eight season openers, last falling to New Mexico to begin the 2012 campaign. This year marks the second straight, and just third time since 2016, that UCLA has opened at home. The Bruins are 2-0-0 in season openers under third-year head coach Ryan Jorden, defeating Northwestern 1-0 in fall of 2019 before knocking off San Francisco 3-0 in spring of this year.
The Series Against Lipscomb
Thusday marks the first-ever meeting in men's soccer between UCLA and Lipscomb. In fact, the Bruins have never faced any of the eight teams in the ASUN Conference (other seven: Bellarmine, Central Arkansas, FGCU, Jacksonville, Liberty, North Florida, Stetson).
The 2021 iteration of the Bruins features plenty of continuity from this spring's squad. UCLA returns from the 2020-21 team:
- 10 of 11 starters
- 20 of 25 players
- 16 of 21 letterwinners
- All eight goalscorers
- 10 of 12 players who recorded a point, including the top-eight scorers by points
UCLA went 2-0-0 in its two preseason exhibition games, opening up with a 3-0 triumph over NAIA-member Westmont before downing Cal Poly by a score of 1-0 this past Saturday. Both games were at home. The Bruins posted clean sheets in both games, outscored their opponents 4-0 on aggregate, and outshot them 28-6. UCLA took control early against the Warriors, taking a 2-0 lead within 16 minutes thanks to early goals from Jose Contell Lechon and Grayson Doody. Riley Ferch added a second-half tally to finish off a team-high three-point night, and UCLA ended the contest with a 20-1 shot advantage. Ollie de Visser's second-half goal was the difference-maker in a tight, physical contest with the Mustangs (each team had just one shot through the first 45 minutes). Goal descriptions:
- Contell Lechon vs. Westmont (6') - From the left wing, Tommy Silva plays a low ball across the box. Contell Lechon gets his foot on the ball while spinning 360 degrees near the six-yard box, rolling it past the keeper.
- Doody vs. Westmont (16') - An attacking sequence led to Ferch winning a loose ball at the top of the 18. With two nearby defenders drawn to the loose ball, Ferch laid off a pass to the right for Doody who finished near post.
- Ferch vs. Westmont (48') - A quick counter and a couple of slick first-time passes led to Ferch receiving the ball atop the 18 with plenty of space. He took his time before slipping a shot past the charging keeper.
- de Visser vs. Cal Poly (47') - From the left wing near the end line, Constantinos Michaelides sent in a low pass to the box, where de Visser met it near the penalty spot and re-directed it with his right foot inside the far post.
UCLA's Opening Day lineup is anchored by three All-Pac-12 talents in junior midfielder RIley Ferch, senior center back Ahmed Longmire, and sophomore left back Tommy Silva. Ferch was an all-league second pick in 2019 after co-leading the conference and tying a UCLA freshman record with 11 assists. He went on to co-lead the team with nine points in spring 2021 (three goals, three assists). Longmire was a second team pick this spring after leading the UCLA defensive corps, while Silva earned an honorable mention with a two-goal, three-assist freshman campaign. Forwards Grayson Doody (3-1-7) and Kevin Diaz (2-2-6) both registered multi-goal campaigns this spring as well.
Lights, Camera, Bruins
The Bruins are currently scheduled to have nine games this season televised on the Pac-12 Networks. UCLA's slate of TV games starts this Sunday with a 3:00 p.m. PT home matchup against San Francisco.
Strong at Home
UCLA took points in four of six of six games at Wallis Annenberg Stadium last season, posting a 3-2-1 record (both losses came against opponents ranked inside the top-10).
Winning the Shot Battle
After outshooting their opponent just once over the first five games of the spring 2021 schedule, the Bruins closed the season by winning the shot battle in five of the final seven games of the year, including a plus-16 advantage over San Diego State (25-9) on Mar. 24. That margin represented the largest for UCLA in any game under Ryan Jorden. UCLA's top shot producers last year included Riley Ferch (22 shots), Kevin Diaz (20), Tommy Silva (13), Grayson Doody (10), and Ollie de Visser (10).
Bruins End Spring Season on High Note
UCLA ended the spring season on an upswing, winning two of their final three games including a signature 4-3 victory over California to end the campaign. That contest with the Golden Bears was a wild one, featuring three lead changes, a late equalizer by UCLA, and a highlight-reel golden goal from Tommy Silva to end it. The Bruins fell behind 1-0 after a 22nd minute marker by Cal, but quickly pulled ahead on scores from Ferch and Doody. Cal netted the next two goals, including a go-ahead score from Jack Singer in the 66th minute, but Doody sent it to extra time with his second goal of the game in the 86th minute. Silva ended it less than 90 seconds into double OT, capping off a wild sequence that saw Doody hit the post before Cal scrambled to block a pair of goal-bound UCLA shots. Silva first-timed a loose ball after the second shot, clanging it off the inside of the left post and in.
UCLA has played among the toughest schedules in the country in recent years. The Bruins' strength of schedule has ranked top-20 in each of Jorden's previous two years: No. 12 in 2019 (.609 opponents winning percentage) and No. 20 in spring 2021 (.588). This spring, UCLA's S.O.S. ranked top-10 in the country at the end of the regular season.
Looking at Lipscomb
Lipscomb - based in Nashville, Tenn. - is coming off a 6-5-2 spring season, highlighted by a 3-2 win over then-No. 20 Liberty on Mar. 13. The Bisons were picked to finish third in the ASUN Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving a pair of first-place votes. Lipscomb is led by preseason ASUN Defender of the Year Noah Gulden, who had a team-high three goals and four assists last year out of the right back position. Other key returners include Hayes Wood, who tied Gulden atop the team scoring leaderboard last year, and goalie Michael Sibley, who had a 1.18 GAA in the spring.
Newbies Make Contributions in Spring 2021
Last year, eight of UCLA's 14 goals (57%) and 23 of 44 individual points (53%) were scored by newcomers. Three of the Bruins' top-four pointholders were newcomers (Doody, Silva, Diaz).
UCLA had four players start all 12 of the team's games last season: forward Grayson Doody, forward Kevin Diaz, defender Ahmed Longmire, and defender Ben Reveno. Goalkeeper Justin Garces was slated to start all 12 games before suffering an injury during pregame warmups before the team's season finale against Cal. All five of those players return for the fall season at UCLA.
UCLA's newest group of student-athletes was the No. 4-ranked recruit class in the country by TopDrawerSoccer. The Bruins' initial freshman class - featuring MF Charlie Crockford, GK Nate Crockford, F Aaron Edwards, MF Mauricio Gutierrez, and F Brandon Zelaya - has been augmented by international signee D Pietro Grassi (Italy) and grad transfer Yoni Sorokin, who was a two-time AAC Midfielder of the Year and three-time all-region pick at UCF.
UCLA Picked Fourth in Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll
The Bruins were picked to finish fourth in the league in this year's Preseason Coaches Poll. Full results:
Stanford (4) - 24 points
Washington (2) - 22 points
Oregon State - 17 points
UCLA - 11 points
California - 10 points
San Diego State - 6 points