By TYLER GRAY
UCLA’s 2012 season was cut short in humiliating fashion when they were ousted from the NCAA tournament, suffering a 5-2 defeat to the University of San Diego.
After a stellar season in which the Bruins went 13-3-3, they barely had any time to react before they were packing their bags and on their way home. But for senior forward Reed Williams and the rest of the Bruins squad, it’s all about looking forward.
“We’re just really anxious and just ready to play in the game tomorrow and get the new season started and forget about that loss and just move on,” Williams told SBI in a phone interview. “We had a week off after we lost and we’ve been working really hard ever since. So it’s been a long time and we’re ready just to step on the field again and play.”
The Newport Beach native was recently named to the MAC Hermann trophy watch list. With the departure of six seniors, including PAC-12 player of the year Ryan Hollingshead, Williams, who shared the team lead in goals scored with 7, will look to have an even bigger role with the team this year.
“It’s an opportunity for me,” Williams said. “Ultimately it doesn’t matter if I’m named to a list or anything, it’s just how I perform this season. It just comes down to how I actually play.”
UCLA will also be bolstered by the addition of the nation’s number one rated recruiting class. The competition in training has never been stiffer and the incoming freshmen have only strengthened the team.
Depth became an issue last year for the Bruins. Playing their fourth game in ten days, it was obvious that the squad was laboring a bit in what would become their final game of the season. This year the team is much deeper and confidence extends much further down the roster.
One such player who could make an impact this year is Michael Amick. The true freshman defender referred to the depth of the team as key to developing a complete squad.
“I showed up for preseason and we got right into it,” said Amick. “It’s a great group of guys; a really competitive group. Over the last two weeks it’s been a grind. As we get ready for our first game tomorrow I think it’s a good, solid team and we’re looking forward to competing all season.”
The Bruins, under head coach Jorge Salcedo for the tenth season running, will look to secure a third consecutive PAC-12 conference title this year, having won eight of their last eleven. The team was selected as the preseason favorite to finish in first place in the conference for the fourth consecutive season, but the players are focused on the opportunity in front of them.
“Focus on what’s important now,” said Amick. ”As long as we’re taking care of each game individually, I think we can look forward to success down the road.”
Salcedo’s squad will have a chance to prove they’ve learned their lesson right out of the gate, with a visit to Bloomington, Indiana in the opening weekend at the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic. In the Friday/Sunday series, the Bruins first play seventh-ranked Notre Dame and then face-off with defending national champions Indiana on Sunday afternoon.
“Obviously our goal is to win the PAC-12 and then contest the national championship and hopefully win that,” said Amick. “But I think it’s more important that we focus on what’s important now and taking those steps in the right direction.”