It was standing room only at Aggie Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon for La Copa de Causeway, the men’s soccer version of the cross-causeway match up between UC Davis and Sacramento State.
Though the temperature was over 100 degrees, the Aggie faithful came out in full force. Fortunately for those wearing blue and gold, UC Davis returned to its winning form with a 1-0 victory over the Hornets.
The crowd was buzzing all game because of the emotion and physicality displayed on the pitch.
In a game that almost spun out of the officials’ control, the Aggies kept their composure and held off the Hornets holding two men down for the game’s final 10 minutes.
Sunday’s win held great importance because it came after a 2-1 loss at St. Mary’s on Friday that dropped the UC Davis record to 2-6.
“The last two or three games, I thought we outplayed the other teams,” said captain Paul Marcoux. “We just haven’t been able to put them away.”
Putting teams away becomes ever more important as Big West Conference play begins Wednesday at UC Irvine.
Friday – St. Mary’s 2, UC Davis 1
The Aggie’s first match of the weekend got off to a rough start as St. Mary’s found the back of the UC Davis net in the eighth minute.
The Gaels added another goal in the 35th minute to take a 2-0 lead going into the break.
UC Davis eventually got on the board when senior Chris Leer scored on a cross from freshman Dan Reese in the 74th minute.
Unfortunately, the Aggies were unable to find the back of St. Mary’s net for the rest of the game, losing 2-1 in Moraga.
“Credit St. Mary’s,” coach Dwayne Shaffer said, “but we gave up two goals down there that were avoidable.”
Leer and junior Julian Godinez led UC Davis with three shots apiece.
Sunday – UC Davis 1, Sacramento State 0
The Aggies returned home Sunday for only their second game of the year at Aggie Soccer Stadium
Normally dominant in Davis, the Aggies lost 2-1 to Washington in double overtime on Sept. 13.
UC Davis scored first in both games, but Sunday the Aggies held off the competition to grab their third win on the season.
“I thought in the first half we played good soccer, we just didn’t play very inspired soccer,” Shaffer said. “That’s kind of normal with an inexperienced team and school having just started.”
In the second half, control over the pitch seemed to be slipping away from head referee Yader Reyes.
The Aggies, however, stayed the course and in the 54th minute Leer found redshirt freshman John Joslin streaking into the box.
Joslin slid his one-timed shot across the face of goal and past the Hornet keeper for the score.
Three minutes later, the game began to get out of the referees’ control. Joslin was tossed on a straight red that had both the UC Davis bench and the Aggie faithful up in arms.
In the 80th minute, Canadian export and UC Davis midfielder Riley Newport received his second yellow of the match, which sent him off the pitch as well.
The Aggies were down two players for the final 10 minutes of the game, but held off Sacramento State for the win.
“We’ve scored first in six of our first nine games,” said Marcoux. “We got a little goose egg on their scoreboard which is always nice to see.”
The victory comes at a particularly important time for the Aggies, who begin Big West play against UC Irvine on Wednesday.
“We’ve gone home a little bit frustrated the last couple of games with our heads down,” said Marcoux. “Now we can lift our heads up and keep looking up into the future.”
JOHN S. HELLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.