Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #2 UCLA / #15 California Regional Breakdown

Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #2 UCLA / #15 California Regional Breakdown

UCLA probably is not very happy with this draw. Three of their four losses came from teams in this section of the bracket. The Bruins fell to California twice and were beaten early in the year by San Diego. The only way it could have been worse was if American snuck into the tournament, which was certainly a possibility, and was placed in this region. But this is still the Bruins region to lose and it may be revenge that carries them into the quarterfinals.


#2 UCLA vs. San Diego/Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton traveled to San Diego way back on September 1st and they will do so again in the first round of the tournament. The Toreros and Titans played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, but it was a tough game. In total there were nine yellow cards and a red card. It was San Diego that had the better opportunities and was a man up for 30 minutes, but failed to capitalize. If Fullerton keeper Jeff Salt has another game like that, the Titans can contain Connor Brandt and the potent San Diego attack.

UCLA has obviously had a great season and most of that stems from their defense. Keeper Earl Edwards, Jr. is one of the best in the country and he has plenty of talent in front him on the back line. However, the Bruins offense has been inconsistent this season. Midfielder Leo Stolz will pull the strings, but somebody has to finish. This is not the type of team that will blow out the opposition and that will likely keep either San Diego or Cal State Fullerton in the game. In their loss to San Diego, it was the Toreros who were able to take advantage of one of the few scoring chances in the game and that is all it takes.


#15 California vs. Northwestern/SIUE

SIUE earned a spot in the tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The squad has been up and down this season and finished with just a 7-8-4 overall record, but they are playing well right now and have a star striker in Christian Volesky. The senior enters the tournament with eight goals and four assists. SIUE will head to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern. It will be interesting to see defender Nikko Boxall and goalie Tyler Miller attempt to contain Volesky. But it is on the end of the pitch where Northwestern’s talent will overtake SIUE. This is not a high scoring Northwestern squad, but forward Joey Calistri and midfielder Cole Missimo will eventually be able to break down the Cougars defense.

The winner of that game has a long trip to California ahead of them. And it could be a very painful trip too. The Golden Bears have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, led by striker Stefano Bonomo and midfielders Seth Casiple and Connor Hallisey. But as good as the offense has been, the defense is very susceptible. In two losses to Oregon State, California gave up ten goals. They allow about two goals per game. If the strike power of Northwestern or SIUE can keep up, California is beatable. 


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