COLLEGE: UCLA warms up for rematch

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
7:04
AM PT

Jorge Salcedo didn't want to look.

His UCLA men's soccer team had just secured a quarterfinal showdown at Louisville, the game every Bruin wanted, and what he remembered most from last year's classic was the snow.

No. 4 UCLA (17-4-1) seeks its 13th final-four appearance in the sport Saturday night with a rematch of one of the greatest NCAA games in history, any sport, and Salcedo will be happy to know no snow will greet his side.

“I'm afraid to [check the forecast],” he kidded last weekend, after the Bruins dominated Rutgers to claim the school's 20th elite-eight berth. “We'll see. We've had inclement weather [in Louisville], we had hot weather when we were there [for a season-opening rematch] in August.”

It doesn't matter, the weather.

“We'll play them in a barn, we'll play them anywhere,” Salcedo said. “We're just excited about the chance to play a good team.”

The forecast for Saturday in Louisville is a high of 61 and a low of 47, cloudy but nothing falling from the sky. That's a lot nicer than in last year's quarterfinals, when the Bruins didn't deal well with the snow and slush and surrendered three goals after taking a 3-1 lead, rallied to tie, then conceded in the final seconds of regulation for a 5-4 loss.

Salcedo's judgment: “One of the wildest matches I have ever been a part of.”

The Bruins got another taste in August, a 2-0 loss when Louisville (14-6-2) was the preseason No. 1 after reaching last year's title game. Salcedo took the blame for that one.

“I put my hand up, I didn’t do a good job of preparing our team, and we tried some things,” he said. “But fast forward to where we are now, we’re a much better team and a team that’s equipped to go on the road, and we plan to go out and play and get a result there.”

The Bruins were considered a title contender from the start, possessing a dynamic attack led by Chandler Hoffman (18 goals) with Pac-12 Player of the Year Kelyn Rowe and Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS) providing service from midfield and the flanks. The backline -- Patrick Matchett (Laguna Niguel/Dana Hills HS), Joe Sofia (Dove Canyon/Mission Viejo HS), Indiana transfer Matt Wiet and Shawn Singh -- has been superb in front of goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who has posted seven successive shutouts, one off the school record.

They'll need to be at their best against All-America forward Colin Rolfe, who has nine goals and 10 assists this season and 33 and 21 in four seasons.

“It’s a cliché that defense wins championships, but at the end of the day, defense got us to the quarterfinals,” Salcedo said. “Seven games where we’ve had shutouts is really impressive because the attitude and the mentality that we have as a team to defend from front to back. We need to go to Louisville and not give up goals, and that’s the plan, to have the same team defending that we’ve had this season.”

The game kicks off at 4 p.m. PST. Video will be available at NCAA.com.

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