LOS ANGELES – Junior forward Milan Iloski recorded UCLA’s first hat trick in nearly eight years to propel the Bruins past defending national champion Maryland on Friday night in the 2019 home opener at Wallis Annenberg Stadium.
Iloski became the first Bruin to pot three goals in a game since Chandler Hoffman accomplished the feat on Sept. 16, 2011. The offensive surge helped UCLA (2-1-0) overcome an early deficit, as Maryland (1-2-0) jumped ahead with a sixth-minute marker by Eric Matzelevich.
Iloski connected with his brother, Eric, for an equalizer in the 19th minute, then scored a pair of goals within 11 minutes in the second half to put the Bruins up by a pair.
— UCLA Men’s Soccer (@UCLAMSoccer) September 7, 2019
Though the Terrapins made it a close game following a 72nd minute goal from Brayan Padilla off a free kick, UCLA weathered the storm for the final 18-plus minutes to come out with the one-goal win.
The victory over the Terps was UCLA’s first over a top-ranked team since taking down Akron 6-1 on Sept. 5, 2016.
Maryland opened Friday’s match on a good note, culminating in a sixth-minute opener from Matzelevich. UMD midfielder Eli Crongale created the opportunity with a slick through ball down the middle for Matzelevich, who uncorked a low shot that was blocked by UCLA keeper Justin Garces before collecting his own rebound and quickly depositing it into the net.
The Bruins used a quick counter off a UMD corner kick to produce an equalizer. After a series of passes got the ball into UCLA’s offensive third, Eric Iloski identified a 2-v-1 situation with his brother, playing a ball on the right side of the box to Milan. The Escondido, Calif. native then hit a low strike inside the near post that caromed off the keeper’s hands and into the net.
UCLA was held without a dangerous scoring chance for the rest of the first half, but immediately took the upper hand once play re-started.
.@uclamsoccer takes down the defending national champions!
UCLA’s first win over a top-ranked team since Sept. 5, 2016, 6-1 over Akron.
Final score | UCLA 3 – Maryland 2
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) September 7, 2019
Iloski would go on to put the Bruins up for good in the 51st minute, sending in a pinpoint shot to the upper right corner from about 20 yards out. The strike gave him the first multi-goal game of his career.
The Real Salt Lake Academy product wasn’t done though, taking advantage of a mishandled ball in the back by the Maryland keeper to produce the game-winner.
The play started with a long ball over the top that ended up straddling the right edge of the Maryland 18-yard box. The UMD keeper hesitated on whether to play it with his hands, and instead saw it glance off his leg. From there, Iloski beat him to the ball, used a burst of speed to get past the keeper and to the front of the net, then used a series of moves and fakes to set up a wide open net.
Maryland made it interesting after Padilla drilled a 20-yard free kick in the 72nd minute, but UCLA stood tall the rest of the way to preserve the decision.
Garces ended up making four saves for the Bruins, including a pair of the highlight reel variety.
In the 49th, he knocked down a volley from outside the box and then scrambled to clear the rebound off the line just before a Terrapin attacker was set to tap it in for a go-ahead tally.
Then in the 81st, he dove to his left to deny a header at the far post off a corner kick for what would have been an equalizer.
After Iloski’s three-goal night, he now is just one off the national lead for the season in both goals (4) and points (9).
UCLA returns to action on Monday night against another top-10 team, hosting No. 6 Georgetown at 5:00 p.m. in a Pac-12 Networks-televised contest.