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Bruins Blank Stanford in Pac-12 Opener, 2-0

Sep 16, 2021
Photo: Scott Chandler

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men's soccer team opened its conference schedule with a 2-0 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Thursday night at Wallis Annenberg Stadium, representing the program's first win over the Cardinal since 2013.  

The Bruins (4-2-0, 1-0-0 Pac-12) have now allowed one goal or fewer in five consecutive games, giving up just two goals total over that span and keeping three clean sheets.

The result was a punch-back in the series for UCLA, which was riding a 14-game winless streak against Stanford (2-2-1, 0-1-0). 

After battling to a scoreless draw through 45 minutes, the Bruins broke through for the game-winning goal on a penalty kick early on in the second half. After continuing to play well throughout the second stanza, UCLA put the game on ice via a 79th minute marker from senior forward Kevin Diaz.

"You're never going to get a perfect performance, but I thought the commitment that the guys had tonight, their work rate, the quality we showed inside a game had a high amount of pressure in it, I thought they did a really good job of sticking to what we had set out to do beforehand," said UCLA head coach Ryan Jorden. "When you set up tactically to play in a certain way, really what you want is for your team to understand it, and then secondarily to have the concentration to follow through on it in both the small details and the big details. I thought by and large tonight, the guys did a really good job of that."

The Bruins got on the board thanks to a 50th minute penalty conversion from graduate midfielder Yoni Sorokin, who has a pair of PK goals this season in as many attempts.

Junior midfielder Riley Ferch set up the play that drew the penalty, floating a ball from just above the penalty arc to sophomore forward Grayson Doody deep on the right side of the 18. A great first touch allowed Doody to put in a low, sharp-angle shot that was stopped by the Stanford keeper. However, the rebound came out to the top of the box, where Ferch beat his defender to the loose ball and drew a foul inside the box to nab the PK decision for the Bruins. Sorokin finished low to his left, as the keeper dove the other way, for the opening score.

The Bruins continued to push the pace after going ahead, and eventually gained some cushion thanks to a hustle play from Diaz in the 79th minute.

With UCLA absorbing some pressure in their defensive third, a cleared ball found its way to forward Jose Contell near the center stripe. Contell chested the ball down to forward Ollie de Visser, who played a long ball into Stanford territory looking to spark a potential counter. From there, Diaz sprinted in and beat both the Cardinal center back and keeper to the ball, taking advantage of the miscue and firing into the empty net with a diving left-footed strike to make it 2-0.

The Bruins continued to control possession for the remainder of the game. Stanford ultimately had just one shot – a last-ditch attempt by Gabe Segal in the 90th minute – over the game's final 35 minutes.

Senior goalie Justin Garces made two saves on the night to record the shutout, his third of the season and 10th of his career. Though he recorded just two saves, he was active throughout the night, making several punching efforts to break up Stanford free kick opportunities. His toughest save came in the 27th minute, as he dove from left to right to push away a 25-yard shot off a free kick from Ousseni Bouda.

In addition to picking up the program's first win over Stanford since 2013, it was also UCLA's first time scoring against Stanford since 2017, first time taking a lead over them since 2016, and first time shutting them out since 2013.

The Bruins continue their conference-opening weekend by hosting California on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. The Pac-12 Network will televise the game, with Christian Miles on the call, while Nick Koop will have the audio play-by-play on