It took a 2,200-mile road trip and a strong dose of inclement weather, but the book has been closed on the UC Davis men’s soccer team’s historic season.
Three days after winning its first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament game in a 4-0 drubbing of Denver at Aggie Soccer Stadium, UC Davis was knocked out of tournament contention by No. 12 Michigan on Tuesday, 2-1.
The game was played in freezing temperatures with snow showers present.
“I don’t feel that the cold got to us,” head coach Dwayne Shaffer said, “but the wind had an impact on the game. We had the wind in the first half and [Michigan] had the wind in the second half.“
The loss, however, can’t take away from one of the best campaigns any UC Davis team has had in the Division I era.
“We’re all upset that we lost,” said Shaffer. “The most important thing is that we had a great run over the last two seasons. We achieved good things this season.“
The Aggies and Wolverines were in the midst of a scoreless tie at halftime, thanks to four saves by sophomore keeper Ryan McCowan.
But in the second half, the Michigan offense came through, netting two goals in a span of 15 minutes to build a 2-0 advantage.
UC Davis scored its goal in the 87th minute, as junior forward Chris Leer sent one home off an assist from senior co-captain Dylan Curtis.
Michigan outshot UC Davis by a 16-6 margin, but Shaffer doesn’t feel that margin was a telling one.
“We were playing really well,” said Shaffer. “We had some dangerous chances in the first half from Dylan Curtis and Quincy Amarikwa. I didn’t walk away from the game thinking Michigan was better than we are. They just had the better of the play today.“
The Aggies finish their historic season with an impressive 13-5-4 record, having been ranked as high as No. 7 in the national polls.
The team became UC Davis‘ first to host a Division I playoff game and qualify for multiple NCAA Tournaments.
“It was a pleasure to be around this group of athletes,” said Shaffer. “They represent UC Davis in every way possible. They helped us establish a reputation … two years removed from Division II. It shows how far we have come.“
MAX ROSENBLUM can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.