Kyle Nakazawa, Seeking Revenge

This is Kyle’s fifth post.
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Wow!

What a year for UCLA men’s soccer.

I haven’t blogged in a while, so for those who haven’t been following our season closely, I’ll try to catch you up.

We ended up finishing our season with a 8-8-3 record; not particularly what we were hoping for, but we all knew we needed to have at least a .500 record to have any hope of qualifying for the playoffs.

With our fingers crossed, we anticipated the day of the draw to find out that we did, in fact, make the playoffs and were going to have a first round home game.

We were all very relieved to hear the news and for an entire week prepared for our first round game against New Mexico, anxious to get the playoffs started.

The one point we all made before going into the Saturday night game was that the past is history.

We all knew that we did not have the season we had hoped for, but each individual learned something important from every setback we encountered this year. We did not look at the season as a failure, but as a learning experience.

Most importantly, we discussed how important it was for us to act now, and that the present is a gift.

So, why not take advantage of the opportunity that we are given?

With that mindset, we came out with a win in our first playoff game in front of a large, supportive crowd. We set the past behind us and focused on what was at hand.

The playoffs are a second chance to showcase to the nation our great ability as a team. I believe we truly did accomplish that with our win against New Mexico, with great performances by everyone on the team.

With the first win behind us, we are looking forward to our second round game against Santa Clara on Wednesday at Santa Clara.

If anyone is not aware, we lost to Santa Clara earlier this year in overtime.

We are seeking revenge.

Go Bruins!

Kyle is apparently too modest to talk about his contribution in the win against New Mexico.

Here’s how the UCLA press office described it:

Bend It Like Naka Sophomore midfielder Kyle Nakazawa’s bending free kick for a goal with 1:39 remaining in regulation provided a dramatic finish for the Bruins in a 1-0 victory over New Mexico in the NCAA first round. Nakazawa earned the free kick when he was taken down just outside the penalty box. His curled his free kick around the Lobos wall and into the back of the net for his third goal of the year and first off a free kick.

“It was an unbelievable way to finish the game,” Nakazawa said. “When I first lined it up, I didn’t see an angle, but then I found a little hole and thought I could bend it in. I couldn’t have hit it any better. It was one of the greatest feelings I have had in my college career.”

It was Nakazawa’s second game-winning goal of the season. Both have come in the final two minutes of the game. On Oct. 21 at Washington, he scored the game-winner with 53 seconds left in regulation in a 3-2 victory. Nakazawa ranks second on the team in goals (3) and points (13) and is the team and Pac-10 leader in assists with seven.

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Kyle Nakazawa, Overcoming Adversity

This is Kyle’s fourth post:
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I’m sure almost everyone is aware we suffered a very disappointing 3-0 loss last weekend against Cal State Northridge.

There were many negative aspects of the game we played, so it was very difficult for us to gather anything positive from the experience. However, like every team in the world, we experience triumphant wins as well as disappointing losses. It’s how you bounce back from those setbacks that really defines a team.

With dampened spirits, we went into several days of training looking forward to Tuesday’s San Diego game.

After our last practice before the USD game we came together as a team. We discussed the negative outcome of the Northridge game, how disappointing it was and how important it was for us to get a result in the next game. The only way we would be able to accomplish that goal, we said, was to have every single player on our team in the exact same mindset, that no matter what obstacles we faced as a team every individual player would support each other. With that focus, we all went into the game determined to win.

The San Diego game marked the first at home since the start of the fall quarter.

So with a lively crowd behind us, we stepped onto the field with adrenaline and excitement dripping from our sweat. We ended up winning the game 1-0 on a David Estrada goal in the first half.

However, what was most impressive was how every player on the team supported each other. Whether it was the guys standing on the sideline cheering words of encouragement or the guys on the field battling for every ball, it was apparent that everyone on the team had the same focus and mindset for the game. It all showed in our performance as a team and the great result.

The loss to Northridge served not only as a learning experience but also as a real gut check. It showed what kind of team we really are here at UCLA. If we can experience such a disappointing result and then bounce back the next game to pull off a remarkable win, then we can overcome any obstacle as a team.

Go Bruins!

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Kyle Nakazawa, How May I Assist You?

Kyle’s third post:
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It was an exciting weekend for UCLA men’s soccer as we went into the weekend without a win under our belts for the beginning of the season but came away with two wins.

The first match played on Friday night against Ohio St. was a very eventful night game where we tallied three goals.

The first goal resulted from a through ball I played to Maxwell Griffin, who nicely placed it past the keeper. Soon later, we were awarded a penalty kick from a handball in the box, and Mikey Stephens converted it with ease.

The first half involved some impressive play from our side, as we were able to connect numerous combinations and present a style of soccer that is very enjoyable to watch.

The third goal came from a corner in the second half that I hit to Jason Leopoldo, who jumped above every defender to perfectly head the ball in the back of the net. The win against Ohio State really gave us some momentum going into Sunday’s game.

Sunday’s game was another great showing for us against our opponent Penn State, ending 4-1 in our favor, which concluded a very promising weekend for us.

The game showed an exciting display of offensive-minded soccer from us, but defensively we were very efficient in ensuring the win. The game was highlighted by Maxwell Griffin’s hat trick where all three goals began with great build-ups from the back to the front. What a way to top off the weekend!

We are off to San Francisco Wednesday to play USF on Thursday night and then Santa Clara on Saturday night. It will be two very challenging games, but we are up for the challenge.

Go Bruins!

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Kyle Nakazawa, Road Trip

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Despite what it says below Kyle’s picture, this is his second post:

This weekend we traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to play Creighton on Saturday night.

We arrived on Friday afternoon to get in a short training session in Creighton’s state-of-the-art college soccer stadium. The stadium resembled a first division English soccer stadium but was equipped with field turf. Fortunately, the majority of our team had prior experience on the surface, so playing a game on it was not too unfamiliar.

The game against Creighton was a memorable one. We set our opponents attendance record for the second time in just two weeks (we did the same at Indiana), and we played before a crowd of nearly 6,000 loud spectators.

The atmosphere was amazing as we battled Creighton for 110 minutes. We nearly clinched the win with minutes left in the game when we had a corner. We managed to hit the crossbar twice and the post once in the exact same play. What luck! Well, the game concluded in a draw, and we left for home the following day.

This week we have been preparing for this weekend’s games against Ohio State and Penn State. Come check us out on Friday night. Go Bruins!

UCLA plays at 7 o’clock tonight against No. 14-ranked Ohio State (3-0-1) and 2 p.m. Sunday against Penn State. Both games are at Drake Stadium.

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Bruins Blog

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This weekend I traveled with my UCLA soccer team to Indiana for the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, a prestigious tournament that Indiana University has hosted for several decades.

The four teams invited to thee tournament were all top ten national-ranked teams, including Indiana, Maryland, Notre Dame, and of course us, UCLA. We fortunately had the opportunity to play Notre Dame and Indiana, two teams that we did not play during my freshman season. The emotions were felt by everyone as we were all anxious to get our season under way.

The Notre Dame game ended with a disappointing loss. We actually tied the game with only seconds left to take the game into overtime. Our left back Mike Zaher from Las Vegas hit a great cross to Chance Myers, who volleyed the ball into the side netting. With the momentum behind us, we entered overtime but were unfortunately defeated, 2-1.

With one loss behind us, we were still looking forward to the next game against Indiana to redeem ourselves. In front of a record crowd on a blistering hot Sunday afternoon, we displayed a great first half of soccer on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, we came away on the short end of the stick, as we were scored on with nearly fifteen minutes to go. We were never able to overcome the deficit.

With two disappointing results this past weekend, we returned to LA with dampened spirits. However, we took away many lessons from this weekend.

As much as we all hate to lose as a team, it is now important for us to prepare for this weekend’s game at Creighton.

Go Bruins!

- Kyle Nakazawa

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