LOS ANGELES -- Top-ranked UCLA earned a 2-2 draw against No. 8 Stanford to extend its lead in the Pac-12 conference to four points on Thursday night at Drake Stadium. Freshman striker Seyi Adekoya netted both goals for the Bruins, bringing his total to five on the year.
“Tonight we were a little bit off in all facets,” UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo said. “From our passing, to our application of what we wanted to do to exploit them, to keeping possession of the ball in our half of the field, we were a little bit off. It was just one of those nights. In some ways we were fortunate at 2-2, but in other ways we were unfortunate not to win the game. Every game in our conference is a battle, and tonight was just that.”
Stanford (9-2-3, 2-1-3 in the Pac-12) got on the board first with a goal from Corey Baird, his second of the season, in the 14th minute. Baird finished acrobatically from inside the box after a previous shot went careening off the goalpost straight to his feet.
Just 30 seconds later, UCLA (10-3-4, 5-1-2 in the Pac-12) would get the answer from Adekoya. Senior Andrew Tusaazemajja sent a cross into the penalty area finding the chest of Adekoya, who controlled the ball down to his foot and sent it straight into the back of the net with a strong strike.
Then, in the 27th minute, it was Adekoya again shining bright for the Bruins. He spun around two Cardinal defenders and scurried towards the net with grace. However, Adekoya ran out of room and was shut down on the doorstep by the Stanford goalkeeper, maintaining the 1-1 tie entering the halftime break.
Coming out of the half, the Bruins would get a great chance on a set piece in the 56th minute. Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year Leo Stolz sized up his target from just outside the penalty area and let a hard, low, bending shot fly. The attempt was on frame just inside the post, but Cardinal goalkeeper Andrew Epstein was there to make another diving save.
Three minutes later, Stolz and Adekoya combined for a magical play to put the Bruins ahead by a goal. Stolz took the ball on his foot from 20 yards out and flipped it high into the box with Adekoya in mind. He headed the ball forward toward the goal mouth and finished with precision with a defender close behind.
Trying desperately to hold onto the one goal lead, UCLA played strong in the defensive third in the second half. However, Stanford would garner an equalizer in the 77th minute, again coming from the freshman Baird. This time, Baird finished from inside the box after Zach Batteer fed him the ball off of his head across the face of goal. The goal from Stanford forced the Bruins to head into overtime for the sixth time this season.
In the two overtime sessions, the Bruins were unable to generate much of an offensive attack, but were able to maintain their strong play on the backline to earn the team a well-deserved draw.
The point earned from the draw extends the Bruins Pac-12 Conference standings lead to four points over the idle Washington Huskies with two games remaining.