Men’s soccer seeks out first conference success against San Diego State

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Men’s soccer

San Diego State
Sunday, 5 p.m.

Wallis Annenberg Stadium
Pac-12 Networks

The Bruins have a chance for their first conference win Sunday night.

Pac-12 play resumes for UCLA men’s soccer (4-4-1, 0-2 Pac-12) against San Diego State (3-4-1, 0-2) at Wallis Annenberg Stadium after a brief, two-game break from conference play against UC Irvine and UC Riverside, the latter of which the Bruins defeated by a score of 3-1 Tuesday night.

UCLA was a minute away from grabbing its second shutout of the year, but surrendered a goal with just 60 seconds to go. Junior midfielder Marcony Pimentel said the Bruins will have to defend for the whole 90 minutes against the Aztecs.

“We were compact and didn’t leave them any space to get out of their own half and that really helped us get the win,” Pimentel said. “I think (against San Diego State) we just have to keep playing the way we did (against UC Riverside). There’s a lot to work on, but there’s a lot to be happy about.”

Two weeks ago, in their first action against conference foes, the Bruins took on No. 7 Washington and Oregon State on the road, but returned to Westwood without a win.

Coach Ryan Jorden said UCLA has progressed well in the last two games since its trip to the Northwest.

“The Northwest is hard because you’re playing two really good teams and it’s tough to start the conference on the road,” Jorden said. “We grinded out good results in the past two game and now we’re at home, which is great.”

Like UCLA, San Diego State has yet to grab a win in the Pac-12 after playing the same two opponents. The Aztecs were blanked by the Huskies in a 2-0 contest Sept. 19 and then suffered a 2-1 loss to the Beavers three days later. The team is, however, coming off of a 2-0 win against Brown on Sunday away from home.

San Diego State’s midfielder Pablo Pelaez and forward Hunter George lead the Aztecs in goals with four apiece – a third-place tie for most goals in the conference. Their goalkeeper Max Watkin leads the Pac-12 in saves with 28 and carries a .718 save percentage. Pelaez was the lone Aztec to be named to the Preseason All-Conference Team.

Bruin freshman defender Constantinos Michaelides – who notched his first career goal Tuesday night – said he has enjoyed the kind of soccer UCLA has been playing in the previous games and expects the Bruins to continue to take control of the game.

“We’re disciplined enough to mark players in the middle to limit their chances of attacking,” Michaelides said. “On offense, we just need to keep finding the holes the the defense is giving us. We’re looking forward to the game on Sunday to keep getting better.”

Kickoff against San Diego State will be Sunday at 5 p.m.

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