UCLA men's soccer fights back to knock off No. 6 Clemson, advance to Sweet Sixteen
CLEMSON, S.C. – The UCLA men's soccer team booked a trip to the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament after defeating No. 6 overall seed Clemson by a score of 2-1 on Sunday night at Historic Riggs Field.
The Bruins (12-6-1) advance to the Third Round for the first time since finishing as national runner-up in 2014. Clemson, the defending national champion, finishes the season at 13-7-1.
It also marks UCLA's first-ever win over a reigning national champ in the NCAA Tournament, having gone winless in six previous match-ups.
UCLA fought from behind for the second consecutive game and just the third time this season, shaking off a 23rd minute PK from the Tigers and going ahead on scores from junior forward Andre Ochoa and sophomore midfielder Tucker Lepley.
Clemson opened the scoring on a successful penalty conversion by Hamady Diop at the 22:10 mark. Tigers' forward Mohamed Seye was the one who drew the foul inside the box, going down after a light collision with UCLA's Nicolas Blassou. It was just the third penalty that the Bruins have conceded this season.
The Bruins didn't wait long to knot things back up, with Ochoa hitting the back of the net just over eight minutes later.
Junior right back Grayson Doody provided the feed on the goal, beating a defender at the corner of the box and getting inside position before drawing another defender to him and laying off a pass for Ochoa above the box. He met the ball inside the penalty arc, first-timing a shot and curling it into the corner of the for his third score of the year.
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) November 20, 2022
The Bruins continued to buzz after the equalizer, creating chances and eventually finding a go-ahead goal via Lepley.
The play started on the left side of UCLA's attacking third, with fifth-year forward Kevin Diaz attempting to play in a cross. Diaz's initial ball got deflected and popped up into the air, but still headed towards the center of the 18-yard box. From there, sophomore forward Jose Contell got under the ball, chested it down inside the box, and stepped aside as Lepley streaked in from the above the box and hammered a shot past the Clemson keeper.
79' | UCLA GOAL!!!
Jose Contell settles a deflected cross, and Tucker Lepley hammers it home for the go-ahead score!
UCLA 2, Clemson 1
— UCLA Men's Soccer (@UCLAMSoccer) November 21, 2022
UCLA held the hosts without a legitimate scoring chance the rest of the way.
Sophomore keeper Nate Crockford was a standout for the Bruins, returning to the net after a one-game absence. He made five saves in the contest, none bigger than a kick save on a Seye breakaway in the 19th minute.
UCLA is set to face Vermont – who came back from two goals down to knock off No. 11 seed SMU – on either Saturday, Nov. 26 or Sunday, Nov. 27. Date and location information is expected to be revealed on Monday.