The turnaround is quick. The task is tall. The Elon University men’s soccer team, in just its fourth NCAA Tournament game in school history, takes on the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed UCLA in Los Angeles for an 8 p.m. Pacific Time kickoff.
UCLA, lead by head coach Jorge Salcedo, is playing in its 31st straight NCAA Tournament and has won four national championships, the most recent of which came in 2002. This is the first time UCLA has earned a No. 1 seed since the 2003 tournament. Last season, UCLA was the overall No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Through the year, UCLA has put together an impressive resume. With an overall record of 11-3-4, the Pac-12 runners up are in good position to make a run at the school’s fifth NCAA Tournament title. Their run starts Sunday, Nov. 24, at home against Elon at Drake Stadium.
Last time the Bruins lost a match was Oct. against the University of California. The other two losses on the season came against Cal Poly and the University of California-Irvine.
In two matches against the overall No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the Pac-12 champions, UCLA did not lose to University of Washington. On Oct. 21, the two battled to 2-2 draw. On Oct. 27, the Bruins came away with a 2-1 victory.
Other significant results this year for UCLA featured a tie against the tournament’s No. 3 seed Notre Dame.
The Bruins are led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Leo Stoltz. The junior midfielder scored a team-high nine goals this season while tallying five assists and 23 points. Victory Chavez scored six goals for the Bruins this season while tallying six assists.
The swingman that could pose a dangerous threat to the Phoenix is Victor Munoz, who tallied a team-high eight assists this season.
In goal for UCLA is Earl Edwards Jr. He played every minute between the pipes for the Bruins this season and allowed 21 goals in 18 matches this year, good for a 1.11 GAA.
Last season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Edwards allowed five goals to the University of San Diego in the second half of the contest after the first half went scoreless. In result, UCLA was bounced from the tournament in what was one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.
UCLA is ranked No. 1 in both the NSCAA and College Soccer News polls. The Bruins place No. 2 in the College Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer polls.
Elon is ranked No. 18 in the College Soccer America poll and No. 22 in the College Soccer News poll. The Phoenix come in at. No. 24 in the NSCAA poll.
Junior forward Jason Waterman sits No. 9 in the country having scored 31 points this season. He has scored a Southern Conference-leading 12 goals this season. Sophomore midfielder James Brace places second on the team and No. 3 in the Southern Conference in goals scored with 10.
“I don’t think we’re really that tuned in to what they’re doing, as I’m sure they’re not really tuned in to what we’re doing as well so it’s kind of like we’re on an equal playing field,” Lovitz said. “At the same time, we feel prepared going into the game, but I’m sure they would say the same thing. We’re finding out as much as we can about them, I’m sure they’re doing the same on us. We’ll see what kind of game plan we can put together to hopefully get the win.”