Nine seniors were honored.
Eight yellow cards were handed out.
The key number, however, was one – the single point necessary for the Aggies to qualify as the fourth seed in the inaugural conference tournament.
They got exactly that Saturday afternoon at Aggie Soccer Stadium, battling UC Santa Barbara to a 0-0 tie on Senior Day in front of a season-high crowd of 1,290.
“We got a point,“ said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “To me the biggest thing is that we played great. We had [good] team defense the whole time.“
The capacity crowd got a treat as well, seeing one of the most physical games in recent UC Davis history, as a total of 47 fouls were committed along with the eight yellow cards.
“We are both very physical teams,” said senior captain Dylan Curtis. “It has been like that since my freshman year. We both usually have the physical upper hand on the team we are playing.
“When we play each other, both teams like to hit hard. There were a lot of yellow [cards] and there may have been some cheap play but both teams enjoy going out there.“
While physical play was at full force, both teams had their chances to score.
“Their outside backs were playing like marking backs and going out,” Curtis said. “It gave our forwards along with our midfielders more space in the middle because they were spreading it out. Unfortunately we couldn’t break them down though the middle. We did get our chances but nothing put through. They did a good job closing out the outside.“
Exceptional goalie play was also abundant on Saturday, especially from UC Davis sophomore keeper Ryan McCowan, who made a match-saving stop four minutes into the first overtime period.
“It looked like a Santa Barbara kid just floated it to the far post and had an opportunity to [score] right there,” Shaffer said. “Ryan just made a great quick reaction save and popped it over the bar.“
The regular season is over and the Aggies have accomplished their primary goal: make it into the top four of the conference to qualify for the conference tournament.
Now that they have accomplished this, they are setting their goals a little higher.
“[The goal is] to make the NCAA Tournament,” Shaffer said. “I would hope that with a 12-3-4 record we would be a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament. The tournament is the ultimate goal so we can at least have a shot to compete for a national championship. I think my team is deserving of that.“
Before the Aggies set their sights on the NCAA Tournament, they will first have to play at UC Irvine in the first round of the Big West Tournament.
“The conference tournament is playoffs,“ said senior midfielder Sule Anibaba. “There is a prize for winning it. Everything that we have done this season – the rankings and all that – you can throw that in a little box. Now we are starting all over. In soccer, it’s about work ethic. Whoever works harder is going to win.“
If UC Davis beats UC Irvine on Wednesday, the Aggies may have another opportunity to play UCSB in the conference championship game.
When asked if he wanted to see the Gauchos again, Anibaba said, “Why not? What do you think? I am looking forward to getting another shot at them.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.