The Aggies have been taught early and often that regardless of the outcome, they have to stay focused.
Despite falling to the California Golden Bears 5-3 in their home finale, the team has maintained their goal to be successful in the NorPac Conference Tournament.
“When we ran them in at the beginning of the season one of the things we talked about was how it’s not going to be easy,” said coach Vianney Campos. “We’re going to face so many obstacles along the way. The win column might not always be there but we’re going to develop and we’re going to bring it at the NorPac Tournament and that’s been their focus – not to give up and to stay motivated.”
UC Davis got out to an early lead when defender Lindsey Valadez fired the ball past the goalkeeper in the fourth minute. This set the tone for a highly contested match.
“It was one of those games where it’s back and forth,” Campos said. “We controlled some of it at the beginning and they controlled some. That’s just the way it played out today.”
With 10 minutes remaining and the Golden Bears up 4-1, Rachel Sabes found the back of the net, her second goal of the season. Cal responded with a score of its own less than five minutes later.
This was all the Golden Bears would need to hold off the Aggies despite Liz Siemion scoring in the final minute of play. The goal was her team-leading fifth on the year.
Even though the Aggies have dropped 12 straight games, they believe that Sunday’s match was an indicator of how well they are playing as a team.
“I felt like this was the first game that we really played like a team,” Sabes said. “We really worked well off each other and made each other look good on the field.”
This match’s outcome was far different from the one of two weeks ago when the Aggies traveled to Cal and were dominated from start to finish.
“We’re developing tremendously every week,” Campos said. “[The players] came out a lot stronger and a lot more confident. They knew that they developed their game throughout the last two weeks so they came out more ready than they were last time.”
Despite the recent string of losses, the Aggies remain upbeat as they head into their final match of the regular season next Saturday at Pacific.
“They enjoy being around each other so much,” Campos said. “They love field hockey. They love this program. I think their energy is just never going to go away whether it’s a season where you’re winning everything or a season where you haven’t won at all. That’s just the mesh that we have this year.”
MARK LING can be reached at email@example.com.