Soccer News: Bruins Face Demanding Schedule for 2015
The Bruins, who made the 2014 College Cup Final, will play a demanding schedule which consists of eight teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, including two teams who made the Quarterfinals.
“As has been the case for several years, we are excited and relish the opportunity to challenge ourselves during the 2015 season,” said UCLA Head Coach Jorge Salcedo. “This year’s schedule is particularly competitive because of the high caliber programs we will face every weekend of the season. Our non-conference matches, coupled with our Pac-12 conference matches, will prove to be one of the toughest schedules in the country.”
Following an exhibition against the University of San Francisco, the Bruins will open their regular season slate at home against the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, August 29. Other non-conference match-ups include trips to 2014 NCAA Tournament participants Maryland (Sept. 4), Georgetown (Sept. 7) and Akron (Nov. 1), along with an in-state bout with Cal Poly (Sept. 18). Non-conference home matches feature UC Riverside (Sept. 13), UC Santa Barbara (Sept. 21), VCU (Sept. 25) and 2014 NCAA Tournament participant UC Irvine (Sept. 27).
“Our non-conference road matches will see us play in two of the more hostile environments; Maryland & Akron, while the third is at Georgetown, who has been a top ten program during the last several years,” continued Coach Salcedo. “Our group is eager to kick off the season versus New Mexico and we look forward to each and every match because of our strong motivation and desire to make this season a very successful year.”
UCLA begins Pac-12 play on the road at Oregon State and Washington on October 2 and October 4 respectively, before returning home to face San Diego State on October 12 for its conference home opener. The Bruins square off with each of the five Pac-12 teams (California, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford and Washington) twice, once at home and once on the road, wrapping up at the Aztecs on November 13.
The Pac-12 Networks are set to televise 13 of the 19 matches, an all-time high for the program, besting the mark of 11 from last season. Additionally, all home matches will feature a live audio broadcast free of charge on uclabruins.com.
The Bruins return a plethora of talent from last year’s team that earned the number two overall seed in the tournament and reached the College Cup Final.
Up top UCLA brings back a trio of high-scoring forwards, highlighted by Top Drawer Soccer Freshman of the Year Abu Danladi. In just 12 games, the Ghanaian scored five goals and added six assists, finishing second on the team with 16 points. Joining Danladi, fellow sophomore and second team All-Pac-12 honoree Seyi Adekoya will be back after netting seven goals a year ago. The veteran of the group, senior Larry Ndjock, comes back as well following a stellar campaign which saw him score two goals in the College Cup semifinals to lead the Bruins past Providence.
In the midfield, the Bruins return a solid group of veterans led by Grady Howe, Brian Iloski and Felix Vobejda. Howe, an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection, will once again anchor the defensive midfield where he contributed to all eight shutouts and assisted on two goals a season ago. Iloski and Vobejda will return in the attacking mid where they combined for two goals and four assists last year.
Arguably the biggest strength of the returning group is on the back end where the Bruins return all four starters from 2014. Junior center back Michael Amick is the top returner, earning first team All-Pac-12 last season after starting all 24 games, logging the most minutes among UCLA field players (2,287). Redshirt senior Edgar Contreras will join Amick in central defense where they will be book-ended by right back Nathan Smith and left back Chase Gasper. The sophomore Gasper, a second team freshman All-American, was especially impressive in his debut campaign, totaling two goals and four assists from his defensive position.
Adding to the impressive returning group, the Bruins will once again bring in the nation’s number one recruiting class for the third consecutive season. The class of 12 will look to make an immediate impact for the program in 2015.