By Zach Zafran
As the men’s soccer team (5-5-4, 2-3-2 Pac-12) took on its cross-state rival No. 22 UCLA (8-5-1, 3-3-1 Pac-12) for Senior Day, the weather at Cagan Stadium proved to be the deciding factor in the match. It was the persistent downpour and strong gusts of wind that forced the referees to call the game at the end of regulation as a 1-1 draw due to unsafe field conditions.
To start the game off, the two California teams were getting acquainted with the unfamiliar rain as neither team was able to create many opportunities. Just as they would for the rest of the day, players were struggling to gain traction on the field, slipping left and right and misjudging passes as the ball either skidded longer than anticipated or came to a halt in a large puddle.
This remained the story of the match until the 30th minute, when junior forward Gabe Segal earned himself a yellow card after colliding with UCLA’s senior goalkeeper Justin Garces. The ensuing scuffle would set the tone for the rest of the match, as tension continued to brew through hard fouls and physical play.
For the final 15 minutes of the first half the Bruins controlled possession but only granted themselves one major opportunity to score, which was denied due to a magnificent save by Stanford’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Matt Frank.
As the whistle blew for halftime and the rain grew stronger, both teams knew they were in for a tough match. Groundskeepers were sweeping out the torn up grass from in front of each goal as the field was speckled with mud and areas were filled with standing water.
To start off the second half, the Cardinal dominated the ball and put pressure on the Bruin defense, holding possession in the box, but were unable to come away with any scores.
However, the energy in the stadium began to shift in the 60th minute. Several Bruins players were voicing their frustrations following an uncalled handball in the box, as well as a no-call which would have earned them a penalty shot.
UCLA maintained possession for a long stretch, providing the team plenty of opportunities — none of which it was able to capitalize on. In the 63rd minute, UCLA’s sophomore forward Grayson Doody whiffed on a wide open goal thanks to the unconventional path that the ball took in the heavy rain. Shortly after, in the 72nd minute, a pass across the box landed the ball in a large puddle, throwing off the Bruins yet again and causing them to miss off of the crossbar.
It was finally in the 73rd minute that a series of headers enabled UCLA to crack the scoreboard with a goal by redshirt freshman forward Jose Contell. In celebration, all members of the Bruins proceeded to dive headfirst, sliding many feet across the pitch as they gave themselves a 1-0 lead over the Cardinal.
With just 10 minutes remaining in regulation, it felt as though UCLA had this one in the bag. “Let’s go Bruins” chants emerged from the stands, and the gloominess of the weather made it feel as though there was little hope for a Cardinal comeback.
Lo and behold, however, Stanford netted the equalizer in the 82nd minute thanks to sophomore defender Noah Adnan, who scored off of the rebound after junior defender Keegan Hughes had his shot attempt blocked.
Sitting tied at one goal apiece, both teams continued to fight. In a play that perhaps best sums up the game for both ends, UCLA had an opportunity to put the game away in the 87th minute with a breakaway, only for both the Bruin attacker and Cardinal defender to slip on the turf and fall down.
Neither team would be presented with much of an opportunity through the rest of regulation, and their tie held through the whistle. Both teams headed back to the benches to recoup for an overtime period, only to be informed that the head referee had decided to call the game. Due to unsafe field conditions, the match would conclude in a 1-1 draw after just 90 minutes of play.
To finish off the regular season, the Cardinal are slated for a four-game road trip, starting with a bout against the Oregon State Beavers. Kickoff is set for Thursday at 3 p.m. PT in Corvallis, Ore.