UC Davis women’s soccer head coach MaryClaire Robinson paces up the sideline. She paces down it.
Her heart rate lowers. It spikes back up. Now up even higher. Back down again.
She takes off her hat, runs her hand through her hair and can’t help herself from thinking what effect this season is having on her.
The Aggies have played eight games, and the difference in all of them has been one goal or less.
“I’m certainly getting greyer a lot faster, I’ll tell you that,” Robinson said. “One of the things I’d like us to improve on is our ability to close out a game. When we’re up, can we get one? Can we get another? Can we get a third? Can we make these games a little less scary?”
If the wins keep coming like this, who can complain?
Coming off a 6-12 season, UC Davis has won three straight contests and is 4-2-2 on the year. The streak began with a 1-0 victory at Sacramento State, and continued last weekend when the Aggies captured a pair of 2-1 victories against Idaho State and Utah Valley to win the Idaho Valley Classic.
In all, the team is 4-1 on the road. Last year, it was 1-5.
“I think we have a better sense of what the expectations are to be successful,” Robinson said. “[The players] know what it’s like to struggle after last year. We lost eight games by one last year. For them to understand that our work rate wasn’t good enough really helps the freshmen come in and have a better sense of what they need to do. “
UC Davis starts only two seniors and has been relying on its junior class for much of its scoring. The juniors have accounted for eight of the team’s 11 goals this season.
Rochelle VanBuskirk, a junior forward, leads the team with three goals, seven points and two game-winners.
Junior Marisa Boge is second on the team with six points (two goals, two assists). She shares the team lead in assists with senior Gabina Bohlman.
Defensively, sophomore Sarah Peters returns at goalie. In 2007, she started in 12 of the team’s 19 games.
“She gained some critical experience last year, and I think that’s really helpful,” Robinson said. “She had an assist against Utah Valley that was actually the game-winner, so that’s another facet about her that many people don’t think about but we’ve enjoyed.“
The team’s final non-conference game of the year will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Nevada.
MICHAEL GEHLKEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.