Streaks can’t last forever. Neither can conference dynasties.
The No. 13 UC Davis men’s soccer team established itself as the team-to-beat in the Big West Conference on Saturday night, dominating two-time defending league champion No. 15 UC Santa Barbara 2-0 in front of over 4,000 fans at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara. The shutout ended the Gauchos‘ 31-game scoring streak.
“It was a very good game and we played well enough to win,“ head coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “Our defense was outstanding as it has been this entire season.“
Senior forward Quincy Amarikwa scored both goals for UC Davis (11-1-1, 3-0-1), upping his career-high season total to 12.
“That just proves that he is the most dangerous striker on the West Coast,“ Shaffer said.
The first goal came 17 minutes into the match when junior midfielder Paul Marcoux centered the ball to Amarikwa who beat the keeper to the left with ease.
The second of Amarikwa’s strikes came in the 48th minute. Amarikwa took a volley from Ian Conklin and hit an acrobatic roundhouse bicycle kick into the upper left corner of the net for the score.
“That was the greatest goal I have ever seen as a coach,“ Shaffer said. “[It was] a full-on bicycle kick surrounded by three [UCSB] kids to the back of the net. He does it every day in practice and finally got one in a game.
“He works hard on the field and is dangerous with the ball on his feet. He is a great soccer player with great athleticism. He is such an important part of our team. If he doesn’t score he wreaks havoc for the other team. [Opponents] try to slow him down, but he keeps on going.“
Goalkeeper Ryan McCowan had a career day, registering six saves for his third straight shutout and sixth of the season.
“McCowan had an outstanding game,“ Shaffer said. “He read the game really well. He made some great decisions to come out and stop the play.“
The defense was also praised.
“Our back four defenders have been playing well, led by senior Jordan Vanderpoorten,” Shaffer said. “[Freshman] Nate Jarman, [sophomore] Chris Beville, and [senior] Jake Mogelson also stepped up.“
The victory marks the second time the Aggies have ever defeated the Gauchos since they began playing Big West Conference teams regularly in 2004.
UC Davis was not only playing for the all-important conference road win, but was also playing for fellow teammate Ahmad Hatifie, who suffered a season-ending compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg last week against Cal State Fullerton.
“They had Ahmad in their minds and hearts,” Shaffer said. “He will still help us get through the season.“
Hatifie, a senior co-captain, suffered the injury when Titans freshman Mario Alvarez slide tackled him illegally, resulting in a red card. Hatifie had the surgery on his tibia and fibula the following day.
Inspired by the loss of their team leader, the Aggies were able to capture the magical win over UCSB with the season’s homestretch approaching.
“It’s getting toward the final quarter of the season,“ Shaffer said. “The players are as tough as they can be physically. We are reaching our peak. We know each other. To beat UCSB in Santa Barbara is quite an accomplishment.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at email@example.com.