Cal Poly scored 22 seconds into the match.
It looked like a blueprint of UC Davis‘ play the past couple of games, as the Aggies have been scored on first in five straight matches.
Recently, they’ve been able to battle from behind.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday, as the Mustangs shut out the Aggies 2-0.
“We made a mistake off of the kickoff,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “Our defenders got caught out of position and [Cal Poly] scored a goal right away.“
Sophomore forward Kyle Montgomery netted the early score, sending a left-footed shot past goalie Ryan McCowan for the goal.
“Once you go down at Cal Poly, the narrow field makes it hard,” Shaffer said. “There is not a lot of space to get behind Cal Poly. It’s a tough place to play. The field is narrower and more compacted. [The goal] made us chase the game. It got us out of our rhythm.“
Thirty minutes later, the Mustangs added another score when freshman midfielder Jacob Hustedt collected the ball and drilled it into the net to hand UC Davis the shutout defeat.
The shutout loss was only the Aggies‘ second of the season, but Shaffer still felt his team was as prepared as ever.
“I think our team was well prepared,” Shaffer said. “It was a great week of training. We didn’t play very well in the first half but made adjustments in the second half.… We had five or six opportunities to get a goal to get back into the game.“
The season, however, is not over. The Aggies will face UC Santa Barbara on Saturday – their third straight game against a top four Big West Conference opponent.
The second-place Gauchos, two-time defending Big West Champions, come into to Aggie Soccer Stadium for the final match of the season before the Big West Tournament.
The outcome of this matchup could determine the winner of the conference.
“Who needs motivation to play UCSB at home?” Shaffer said. “It is a great opportunity to play in front of the home fans. We have proved that we can beat them. My guys are jacked up and know what’s at stake. I expect my team to be prepared to play. Our field is a tough place to play for opponents.“
If UC Davis wins, the team could have an opportunity to host a game in the first round of the first-annual Big West Conference Tournament.
However, Shaffer does not stress that as a necessity.
“If it happens, great,” Shaffer said. “It will be a treat for the players and fans.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.