The 24th ranked University of New Mexico men’s soccer team (8-3-1, 3-1-1 C-USA) will take on University of California at Los Angeles Bruins (6-5-0, 3-2-0 Pac-12) on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the UNM Soccer Complex.
The Lobos defeated the University of Alabama at Birmingham by a score of 2-0 in their last game. The win over UAB extended the Lobos’ winning streak to four and they are now unbeaten in their last five games.
The UCLA Bruins are coming off an overtime victory over San Diego State. UCLA freshman Eric Iloski scored his first career goal in the fifth minute of overtime helping the Bruins to a 1-0 victory. The victory over San Diego State was the Bruins’ second straight overtime win and extended their winning run to three.
UCLA’s main man is senior forward Brian Iloski, who leads the team with five goals. Three out of those five goals have been game winners. Iloski is ranked top-100 in the NCAA in game-winning goals (20th) and goals per game (96th).
The Bruins have squad depth and this shows in their team rotation. So far, only three players have started each of the 11 eleven matches – Brian Iloski, sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Silva and junior transfer Anderson Asiedu. 17 different players have started at least one match this season for the Bruins.
The Lobos will be looking to build upon their momentum and repeat a similar performance as against UAB. Heading into the final stretch of the season, the Lobos will be looking for help from forwards Sam Gleadle, Alex Vedamanikam and Luke Lawrence, all of who have scored at least one goal this season.
Defensively, the Lobos have recorded six shutouts this season. Junior Aaron Herrera and senior goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu have had a great campaign so far. Herrera, who has scored four goals this season has been a standout in front of the goal at both the ends.
Facing the Bruins, the Lobos defense will have quite a task at hand trying to contain UCLA talisman Iloski.
In their previous game, the Lobos outshot UAB 19-12, 8-5 in shots on goal. Despite their chances in the first half, the Lobos failed to score. Heading into tomorrow’s game, the Lobos would do well to make the most of their first half chances, since they are now 6-0-0 when scoring first this season. Under coach Jeremy Fishbein, UNM is 171-14-21 when scoring first.
All-time, the Lobos are 2-11-0 against the Bruins. This is only the second time that the two schools have met when UCLA wasn’t ranked. Traditionally, UCLA is a men’s soccer powerhouse, but it’s not something that Fishbein is worried about.
“That’s what’s expected, Fishbein said. “You want to play great teams, nothing comes easy, but this is why our guys are here. They expect to win, whether we’ll win or not, we’ll see. We’ve got to play well, but I don’t think we build it up as much as other people may, and that’s part of having a culture of winning and a championship culture, and guys who train and have success.”
The Lobos are planning to approach UCLA a bit differently than the past few teams to play the Bruins, and it’s something that will allow the team to play to their strengths, and take the fight right to the Bruins.
“I think we’ll get after them a little bit, we’re a team that likes to press. We’re aggressive defensively, that’s how we’re going to play it. We’re not going to sit back and look to counter, we’re going to get right after them right off the bat. Probably switch the line-up a little bit, and we’ll see how it goes.”
The players will have an opportunity to play to that winning culture, and prove that they aren’t phased by playing a big name team like UCLA. Despite UCLA not being quite the same team as in years past, it’s still a good test for New Mexico, and an opportunity to prove themselves before they take on Florida International on Saturday.
Cameron Goeldner is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger
Ajinkya Patil is a freelance sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @ajinkyapatil_16