After 20 games, 31 goals and countless celebrations and road-trips, the UC Davis men’s soccer team find themselves in the No. 1 spot in the North Division of the Big West Championships. The Aggies officially clinched the top spot after defeating No. 2 seed Sacramento State at home in front of a season high of 1,349 fans.
“I just think it was a good battle between two good teams,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “Sacramento State is a very good team and today was our day. I thought we were prepared and played well and did everything we needed to do to score the goals to win the game. I’m extremely excited for the team. We’re champions of the North and I think it is well-deserved. We’re looking forward to competing in the Big West Tournament and hosting a game on Wednesday and I hope all the Aggie supporters come on out.”
Sophomore forward Matt Wiesenfarth led the team to victory with goals in the eighth and 46th minutes of play. At the 8:06 mark, Wiesenfarth fired a shot of the season with a header into the top right corner.
Junior forward Alex Aguiar chipped a shot over the Hornet defense to Wiesenfarth, who managed to head the ball just over the hands of Hornet goalkeeper Bryan Oliver into the back of the net.
The Hornets responded with a goal with 36 seconds left in the first half. Max Alvarez got a pass from Adam Rodriguez and sprinted across the field toward the goal. Alvarez proceeded to fire a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal past the range of junior goalkeeper Omar Zeenni.
Fortunately, the Aggies regrouped during the halftime period, shaking off the collapse in defense in the last few seconds of the first half. The UC Davis defense came out stronger than ever in the second half, leaving the Hornets scoreless for the duration of the game.
Just over a minute into the second half, Wiesenfarth scored the game winner. Junior forward Alex Henry slotted a pass across the goal from the left side and Wiesenfarth, unable to make a turn in the box, backheeled it behind him into the lower right corner of the goal, giving UC Davis the 2-1 lead.
Overall, the Aggies outshot the Hornets 9-6 in the second half. Sophomore defender Ramon Martin Del Campo put a header on goal off a corner kick by junior forward Kevin Schulte, but a Horner defender was in position and managed to deflect it.
Prior to the commencement of the match, seniors John Joslin, Mustafa Chopan and Ethan Shawlee were commemorated in the pregame ceremony.
“We have three very good seniors in our program and all three of them added so much to the team,” Shaffer said. “They all showed so much leadership, so much fight and determination. Those three guys have been incredible to the program and they’re seeing the fruits of their hard work over the last four or five years today with the North Division title.”
The Aggies will host a semifinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at a time that is yet to be determined. UC Davis will face off with Cal State Fullerton, a team they beat this season by a score of 2-1.
VEENA BANSAL can be reached at email@example.com.