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The Bruins were in a hole late, but a double serving of heroics from freshman forward Aaron Edwards turned things around just in time.

UCLA men’s soccer (8-4-0) was able to secure its second straight victory at home Thursday, winning its final non-conference game of the year against No. 14 Loyola Marymount (8-2-1) by a score of 2-1. The Bruins outshot the Lions 15-4, but their strikes did not reach the back of the net until the blue and gold found themselves trailing down the stretch.

Edwards scored a brace in the match while redshirt freshman midfielder Tucker Lepley continued supplying the team with chances by assisting both goals.

In the 69th minute, sophomore forward Grayson Doody sent a ball down the right side of the pitch towards Lepley. Lepley cut the ball back in towards Edwards, who clipped the ball into the net for his first career collegiate goal, tying the game at one apiece.

Lepley found the freshman forward once again in the 83rd minute, but this time off a corner kick. Edwards rose above the rest and headed the ball past Lions goalkeeper Jacob Jackson to take the lead for the Bruins, securing a brace for himself in the process.

Joining the Bruins prior to this season, Edwards was ranked the No. 1 forward and No. 2 player overall in Northern California by TopDrawerSoccer. He had started all 11 of UCLA’s matches entering Thursday, even playing 90 minutes in five of his previous six appearances, but only recorded one shot on net in that span.

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Edwards’ fortunes changed Thursday night, and the Bruins were able to bounce back from an early deficit as a result.

In a shift from previous matches, sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Kirberg started between the sticks in the place of senior Justin Garces. In Kirberg’s first start of the season, he conceded a goal in the 31st minute, putting the Bruins down by one. Lions forward Duhaney Williams struck a ball that slipped past Kirberg and into the net.

The Peoria, Arizona, native appeared in three games last season and most recently played 19 scoreless minutes Sept. 6 versus CSUN. In Thursday night’s action, Kirberg did not make a save, playing the entirety of the contest with just the one shot on goal sent his way thanks to UCLA’s back line standing strong for the final hour.

The best chance for the Bruins to answer in the first half occurred when sophomore defender Tommy Silva sent a shot just over the bar; away from Jackson. Despite overwhelming the Lions’ defense with eight shots in the first half, the Bruins went to the locker room for a halftime talk still down one.

The Lions tried to make things difficult for the Bruins in the match, fouling them 13 times, while the Bruins fouled slightly less with nine. Neither team picked up a yellow card in the contest, though.

UCLA’s next match will be back in conference action. The Bruins will travel to Berkeley to face Cal next Thursday at 12 p.m.

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