The Aggies were hot.
They had won four in a row and seven of their last eight. The newly-minted, seventh-ranked team in the country was looking to keep their hot streak alive as they traveled to a competitive Irvine Invitational that boasted the top 15 teams in the country.
The gifted field cooled the Aggies down, as they split both days of competition and came away with an 11th-place finish. However, UC Davis went 2-1 in conference play thanks to a very balanced goal scoring attack.
“Going 3-1 would have been better,” coach Jamey Wright said, “but winning two conference games against two top-20 teams feels good.“
Saturday – No. 10 Arizona State 9, No. 7 UC Davis 6
The Aggies‘ looked to keep their winning streak alive against a talented Sun Devils squad in Saturday’s opener.
But Arizona State was too much to handle, as they opened up an early 5-2 lead at half and eventually went up 8-2 in the fourth.
The Sun Devils were led by lefty sophomore Lynlee Smith. Smith, who is currently a member of the New Zealand national team, had four goals and three assists on the day.
Freshman Ariel Feeney and sophomore Dakotah Mohr each had two strikes for the Aggies, but their attempts fell short as UC Davis could not hold off the Sun Devil attack.
“Most teams only have one lefty,” Wright said. “Arizona State starts three. In a game where a lot of ejections were called, lefties make a huge difference on 6-on-5 opportunities.“
Saturday – No. 7 UC Davis 10, No. 19 UC Santa Barbara 6
Sophomore Michelle Hook scored her first career hat trick as the Aggies took down their sister school during Saturday’s nightcap, 10-6.
UC Davis took an early 4-2 lead, but the Gauchos fought their way back to a 5-5 tie midway through the third period. Then Rachelle Smith ignited a 4-0 Aggies run with her strike with 3:14 left in third.
Smith, freshman Kaylee Miller and junior Dana Nelson all had two strikes apiece on the day, while junior goalkeeper Casey Hines tallied eight saves in the Aggies‘ first Big West Conference win of the season.
“It’s really great having such a variety of players scoring for us,” Wright said. “We played so many different groups and we have a lot of weapons.“
Sunday – No. 12 UC Irvine 11, No. 7 UC Davis 7
The Aggies met the host Anteaters for Sunday’s opener in the consolation bracket.
Irvine dominated most of the game, going up 6-4 at the break and extending their lead to 9-4 at the end of three.
Junior Ashley Chandler gave the Anteaters all they could handle, scoring four goals in the contest. Coincidentally, Sunday’s games were held at Corona Del Mar High School, Chandler’s alma mater.
The homecoming would not be enough to push the Aggies to a victory as they fell 11-7 to their conference opponent.
“Irvine lost on Saturday to Loyola Marymount,” Wright said. “After controlling LMU last weekend, I thought we had a good chance. I still think we might be the better team.“
Sunday – No. 7 UC Davis 8, No. 14 Cal State Northridge 6
UC Davis faced its third Big West team in a row in a club that boasted a 6-foot-1 star goalkeeper that is a backup for the U.S. national team, Jillian Stapf.
“I was excited to play Northridge because of their star goalie,” Wright said. “Sometimes teams let that get inside their heads, but we took good shots and scored on counters. I was proud of our girls.“
The Aggies crafted an early 4-1 lead after back-to-back goals from sophomore Lauren Siedemann to start the second.
The Matadors came back to tie the game early in the third and take their first lead of the contest later in that period. The lead was short lived, as senior Lindsay Kiyama equalized the score on the next possession with one of her two goals on the game.
Senior Sophia Patronas then gave the Aggies a lead they would never give up with a strike in the third. UC Davis moves to 11-5 for the season and 2-1 in conference play.
UC Davis takes a week off from competition before launching a three-week homestand, starting with a pseudo-tournament against Sonoma State, Cal State Bakersfield, Stanford and Santa Clara on Mar. 7-8.
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.