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Bruins Drop 2-1 Heartbreaker at Duke in NCAA Second Round

Nov 21, 2021
Tucker Lepley (Photo: Reagan Lunn)

DURHAM, N.C. – The UCLA men's soccer team went ahead early on a ninth-minute score from junior midfielder Jose Sosa, but had to play over 56 minutes a man down before conceding a pair of late goals in a 2-1 loss to Duke in Sunday afternoon's NCAA Second Round game at Koskinen Stadium.

The Bruins end their season with an 11-7-1 record, their most single-season wins since 2015. UCLA had advanced to the second round after taking down UC Santa Barbara in overtime, 2-1, on Thursday in Westwood.

UCLA had to go on the defensive after going a man down in the 34th minute – UCLA committed six fouls in the first half but was booked four times – and looked like it would escape with the 1-0 win after absorbing a number of chances for Duke (14-4-1).

However, Duke ultimately broke through at the 86:29 mark on a score from Ruben Messales. The ball had been bouncing around the UCLA box for a few moments – and it looked as if a Blue Devils player may have made contact with UCLA goalie Nate Crawford during the sequence – before Messales was able to punch it in from close range.

About 40 seconds later, Duke's Peter Stroud hit a shot that deflected off a UCLA player and inside the left post for the eventual game-winning goal.

Up until the 87th minute, the Bruins bent but didn't break despite being a man down. Crockford was at the center of that defensive effort, making a career-high 10 saves. As a team UCLA mostly contained the Blue Devils, who had 19 shots in the second half but didn't have many grade-A chances besides the two goals and a 56th minute header that hit the crossbar.

The Bruins started the contest on a strong note, resulting in Sosa's opener at the 8:48 mark. After a sustained period of possession in the offensive third that allowed UCLA to get numbers forward, the ball came to Tucker Lepley above the box. He faked a shot with his favored left-foot to buy himself time and space, then threaded a perfectly-placed pass between three Duke defenders to hit Sosa on the run in the box. From there, Sosa took one touch with his left foot and sniped a right-footed shot low to the keeper's right for his first goal of the year.

The 10-man Bruins had a solid chance to add to the lead in the 54th minute when a ball came to Kevin Diaz on the left wing for a partial 1-v-1, but his half-volley attempt went wide of the far post.

Duke advances to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and will host the winner of the St. Louis-LIU matchup.

Stay tuned to @UCLAMSoccer on Twitter for all team updates.