UC Davis extends Big West record to three straight wins

This past weekend, the UC Davis men’s soccer team came away with two strong wins over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton at home. This marks the Aggies’ third straight win and a record improvement to 5-4-4 overall and 3-1-0 in the Big West Conference.

Friday — UC Davis 2, UC Riverside 1

A much-anticipated matchup against UCR went in favor of the Aggies by a score of 1-0 this past Friday. The Aggies battled throughout the first half, taking the first five shots and preventing UC Riverside from generating any offensive attacks.

Junior goalkeeper Omar Zeenni saved three goal attempts resulting in a scoreless first half on both sides.

The UC Davis momentum carried into the second half and the Aggies’ efforts began to reflect positively. In the 57th minute, Zeenni came up with a huge save on Neil Ignacio’s shot, deflecting the ball after Ignacio fired a close-range shot.

Just three minutes later, junior Kevin Schulte gave UC Davis the 1-0 with his 60th-minute score on fellow junior Alex Henry’s indirect free kick on the far end of the penalty box.

“I was just trying to make the shot,” Schulte said. “The sun was in my eyes – I was lucky to make it in.”

Following the goal, the Aggie defense strengthened and limited the Highlanders to just two goals in the final 30 minutes of the game.

“Today was our day,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “We were outstanding in every aspect. Our defense played outstanding and held the shutout. Kevin Schulte had a nice goal against his hometown and Matt Wiesenfarth was great for us and put a lot of pressure on their defense. Tactically, we played a great game and it showed with the result.”

Sunday — UC Davis 2, Cal State Fullerton 1

This past Sunday, the team extended its streak to three wins with a 2-1 win over the Titans. Over the last three games, the Aggies have outscored their opponents 6-2.

Henry got the Aggies started offensively at the 8:59 mark, lining up a direct free kick but hitting the shot into the wall set up by the Cal State Fullerton defense. From there, however, UC Davis outshot Cal State Fullerton 7-3 in the first half.

Junior Alex Aguiar then put UC Davis up with a successful penalty kick in the 36th minute. He kept the ball low and on the ground, slotting the shot just past Cal State Fullerton goalkeeper Robbie Hannon and into the lower right corner. It was Aguiar’s third goal of the year.

The Titans put away the equalizer in the 63rd minute, however. Jameson Campbell’s header was deflected away by UC Davis goalkeeper Omar Zeenni and, after a scramble in the box, Ian Ramos was on hand to put it away and tie the game at one goal apiece.

Henry then put the Aggies up for good with a goal in the 79th minute. After attempts by Schulte and junior Pat Reese were cleared away by the Titan defense, Henry controlled the clearance and hit a low hard shot from 35 yards out that found the far right corner of the net perfectly. It was his first goal of the year.

“We gave them life and allowed them the opportunity to score that goal and it turned into a good, hard game,” Shaffer said. “We responded and Alex Henry scored a great goal. I’m happy with my team. Aguiar led all players with four shots as UC Davis outshot Cal State Fullerton 17-8.

“We’ve played an extremely difficult schedule and we’ve won three conference games in a row so I feel like we’re getting better and better,” Shaffer said. “We have a big game coming up on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara so we’ll take a couple of days to rest and get our legs and our minds back and get prepared.”

UC Davis wraps up a three-game homestand on Saturday, hosting UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. at Aggie Soccer Field.

VEENA BANSAL can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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