Adekoya Again: UCLA frosh nets winner, 2-1

by Will Parchman
October 24, 2014

SEATTLE — Seyi Adekoya grew up just miles from the University of Washington campus. As a kid coming up in Seattle, Washington sports were a major part of Adekoya’s life, and he vividly remembers those games holding no small amount of importance during his youth.

Adekoya returned to UW on Thursday, but it wasn’t as a fan this time. It was as the conquering opposition.

After making his name as a youth player in the Seattle Sounders academy system, Adekoya scored his second game-winner over Washington in a week to guide the No. 8 Bruins over No. 3 Washington 2-1 and into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. 

On Oct. 16, Adekoya, a freshman, scored the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 win over the Huskies in Westwood before being sent off in the second half with a second yellow. On Thursday, with a collection of about 60 friends and family on hand, Adekoya did it again, but this time in his own backyard. In the 53rd minute, a Chase Gasper through ball found Adekoya in space just outside the 18, and he beat Spencer Richey low to his right to break the deadlock for a 2-1 lead.

“Playing here was awesome,” Adekoya said. “I got to see all my family, friends, teachers. I saw a lot of people cheering me on, saying great things to me. Scoring the goal was fantastic. I didn’t think I was going to get a goal today, but I’ve just got to keep working and I guess I got it. I was really excited.”

The win doesn’t assure UCLA of the outright Pac-12 regular season title, but it puts the Bruins (9-3-3, 4-1-1) in the driver’s seat. The loss forces Washington (10-3-1, 3-2-1) to essentially win out, which would mean sandwiching road wins against Stanford and Cal between home matches against San Diego State and Oregon State to finish. Not impossible, especially if the Bruins stumble, but not an entirely enviable position into the second half of the conference slate either.

“If (UCLA) ends up being the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and you’re going to play them twice and put 40-something shots on them in two games, I feel like this is a team that can go a long way in the tournament,” Washington coach Jamie Clark said. “But first and foremost, if we can win our last four Pac-12 games, I think the Pac-12 championship will still head our way. But that’s our task right now, which is tough in this conference.”

Thursday’s rematch between two of college soccer’s true heavyweights featured three players - UCLA’s Leo Stolz and Washington’s Cristian Roldan and Darwin Jones - who turned down professional opportunities with MLS in the offseason to return to college. Fittingly, the game assumed an electric tempo from the opening whistle. The Huskies scored in the third minute, and UCLA was forced to gradually turn the tide until Adekoya’s eventual winner.

And Adekoya wasn’t just playing for old connections. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was in attendance, as was his assistant Brian Schmetzer alongside Sounders owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer. They were scouting a number of Sounders connections on field, including Washington winger Henry Wingo, a longtime teammate of Adekoya’s with the Sounders who nearly scored in the first half. 

Another of those connections was Jones, who could’ve signed a Homegrown deal with the Sounders in the offseason but opted to return to Washington for his senior year. Jones has been electric up top this year, and he was off to a fast start Thursday before he tweaked his quad halfway through the half and missed the rest of the game. That forced Clark to rotate Mason Robertson up top, which shifted the focus of the Huskies’ attack.

“We put a bigger body up front and targeted him,” Clark said, “but we still created enough chances to get a result.”

It didn’t take long for Washington to pound in an early goal. The Huskies earned a corner in the third minute, and midfielder Justin Lange flashed into traffic and got a glancing forehead on the in-swinger to beat Earl Edwards for a surprisingly quick opening salvo. But it hardly decided the opening half, let alone the match itself.

UCLA spent the next 20 minutes gradually turning up the heat in the midfield, a task made considerably more difficult by Washington’s ability to invert its wingbacks and turn a three-man back line into a five-man wall in a pinch. Further, midfielder James Moberg helped mark out Stolz, who routinely lost out to Moberg on one-on-one battles and was forced to flit around the edges of danger instead of injecting himself into the game's most dangerous moments.

But run-of-play sturdiness doesn’t matter much if you can’t defend set pieces, and a miscue on a corner about a half hour in evened the score. Center back Aaron Simmons was left to drift toward the far post, and Richey’s outstretched hand missed the ball’s trajectory, which took it directly onto Simmons’ head. That left the defender with a simple finish to knot the game at 1-1, which is where it stayed into the half. 

But Washington took the momentum into the half with a positive final 10 minutes and two of the game’s biggest near-misses. In the 36th, Wingo forced Edwards to make a sprawling save to right, and in the 41st Roldan plonked a close-range effort from the left wing off the near post. 

At least statistically, Washington carried the day. The Huskies out-shot UCLA 21-8 and doubled up the Bruins on corners, but they only forced Edwards to make two saves and couldn't cash in on enough of their myriad chances. As a result, the Bruins are streaking to the head of the Pac-12 with the conference’s home stretch awaiting.

“It’s just great,” Adekoya said. “The team is fantastic. The coaches have been on us about our mentality and team play and working for each other and doing a great job getting the result, because we know we can get the result.”

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