Teams: UC Davis at No. 4 UC Santa Barbara
Records: 6-12-1 (3-5-1); Gauchos 13-3-1 (7-0)
Where: Harder Stadium – Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Redshirt freshmen Matt Provencher will get his second consecutive start in front of net for the Aggies on Saturday.
After starting keeper Ryan McCowan was injured on October 24th, Provencher started his first game as a collegiate keeper against Cal Poly on Saturday at Aggie Soccer Stadium.
The Aggie defense stiffened up and Provencher only had to make one save on just five shots in a 2-0 victory.
Saturday will be a big test for the redshirt freshman as UC Santa Barbara has averaged an attendance of 4,541 for its eight games at Harder Stadium this season.
Did you know? Harder Stadium is always a difficult place to play.
Saturday should be even more difficult than usual.
Though the Gauchos have already clinched the Big West Conference regular season title, Saturday is Senior Night and PTA Game Night in Santa Barbara. UC Santa Barbara, like UC Davis, will be saying goodbye to just three seniors.
Preview: Playing the Gauchos in Santa Barbara serves as a good barometer of a teams talent and potential.
“If we can beat Santa Barbara we will have shown that we can beat the three best teams in the Big West,” said senior captain Paul Marcoux.
After Saturday’s win over Cal Poly in which the Aggies controlled the game, an upset this Saturday over UCSB seems more possible than ever.
“Our training sessions this past week were the most enjoyable training sessions we’ve had all season,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer after the Cal Poly match. “The kids are working hard and we are still very competitive.”
Playing against the Gauchos will also be a great experience for all of the Aggies first-year players.
“Who wouldn’t get excited to go down and play in front of possibly five to ten thousand people at Santa Barbara,” Shaffer said.
By virtue of Cal State Northridge’s win over Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, only a win in Santa Barbara on Saturday coupled with both a Northridge loss and a Fullerton loss or tie will give the Aggies a chance at making the Big West Conference Tournament.
The match between the Aggies and Gauchos kicks off under the lights at 7 p.m. It can be followed on GameTracker at ucdavisaggies.com.
- John S. Heller