LOS ANGELES, Calif. – An 89th minute goal from Aaron Simmons was the winner for No. 6 UCLA and left Stanford gutted as the Cardinal’s upset bid slipped through its fingers in a 1-0 loss Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Simmons’ goal broke a deadlocked match which featured just 15 combined shots and the goalkeepers combining for five saves.
It is just the third loss of the season for the Cardinal (6-3-1, 1-2-0 Pac-12, three points), with all three of those setbacks coming against top-six teams. Stanford previously fell to then-No. 3 Georgetown (2-0 on Sept. 1) and No. 3 Washington (3-1 on Oct. 3). UCLA, meanwhile improved to 7-2-1 and 2-0-0 with six points in Pac-12 play.
“We know that we’re doing so many things right, and we just keep believing in all the great things players are doing,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said after the match. “ we know that the season is just a journey where we’re taking steps forward each time we play. Tonight was very tough for us to play and settle on the ball and credit to the Bruins that they managed to pressure the ball quite well. But that being said we did manage to put together some great sequences and create some outstanding chances. The most valueble player out there tonight would have to be UCLA’s keeper, who made a couple of huge saves.”
The match-winner was scored after the Cardinal managed to clear the ball out of the box, but UCLA’s Ryan Lee set up Simmons whose effort deflected off of a Cardinal defender and past Drew Hutchins into the net. It was the second straight cruel defeat Stanford had suffered at Drake Stadium, as last year the Cardinal fought its way into double overtime before the Bruins scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph.
Hutchins and his UCLA counterpart Earl Edwards, Jr. did their parts to keep the match knotted at 0-0 through 88 minutes. Jimmy Callinan fired towards goal and was stopped by Edwards in the 21st minute, the first real chance for either team. Jordan Morris would get an excellent chance at goal minutes into the second half but Edwards was again equal to the task.
Hutchins meanwhile stopped Felix Vobejda and Victor Munoz late in the first half to keep things scoreless, and the Cardinal defense did well to keep UCLA efforts away from the frame until Simmons’ late winner.
“We defended incredibly well and managed to be more productive in our attack,” Gunn said. “Even though UCLA had the better possession, we carved out the better chances in a game in which there were very few chances.”
Stanford earned three corner kicks over the final 22 minutes and for the match had five chances from the corner to just two for UCLA, but none came to fruition.
The Cardinal will attempt to rebound and grab three away points Sunday at San Diego State in a 12 p.m. kickoff.
“Each game is a challenge and an opportunity, and once it’s over we just look forward to the next,” Gunn added. “San Diego State will be another tough game but we’re confident that we’ll be ready to play. I’m very proud of how we played tonight and how we confidently went about things in a game with a very tough opponent.”