Until late Wednesday afternoon, UC Davis was still in the Big West Conference Tournament picture.
Needing a tie between Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge to stay alive, the Aggies waited intently for the result.
The match went into its second overtime before Cal State Northridge was able to put Cal State Fullerton away with the golden goal. In winning, the Matadors slammed the door on the Aggies’ hope of making the Big West tournament.
With their postseason hopes dashed, UC Davis travelled to UC Santa Barbara to play in front of nearly 7,000 fans at Harder Stadium.
The Aggies fell to the No. 2 Gauchos 2-0 on Meredith Field. With the loss UC Davis finishes its season sixth in the Big West with a record of 6-12-1 (3-6-1).
Saturday – UC Santa Barbara 2, UC Davis 0
Over the past few seasons, some of the most crucial games in the Big West have been between the Aggies and the Gauchos.
This season, the final game of the regular season for both teams had less Big West implications than the Aggies would have liked.
The No. 2 ranked Gauchos looked to finish their season with a win on senior night. The Aggies were looking for a victory send-off for their three departing seniors and for some of the younger players to gain experience playing a top team in front of a big crowd.
UC Santa Barbara would get 2-0 the win while UC Davis suffered the loss to bring its season to a close.
Freshman midfielder Jacob Barron, making his second consecutive start for the Aggies, took the teams’ first shot of the game forcing the Gaucho keeper to make a save in the 25th minute.
The two teams entered the half all-square at zero with the Aggies only getting off three shots in the half.
UC Santa Barbara would respond to being held scoreless in the first half by scoring twice in a span of two minutes to take a 2-0 advantage. That lead would prove to be too much for the Aggies to overcome as the Gauchos won by two goals at Harder Stadium.
The loss brought the season to an end and concluded the collegiate careers of three Aggies – Juan Hernandez, Chris Leer and Paul Marcoux.
“Being an athlete at Davis has been wonderful,” Leer said. “It’s a really supportive college town. The soccer atmosphere has gotten better every year I’ve been here, and hopefully it will continue to get better for future kids to come.”
The young Aggies were led by their seniors this season as Leer was second in scoring and first in assists, while captain Marcoux led the Aggies in scoring and was second in assists. Hernandez added a goal and an assist of his own in spite of seeing limited action.
“Coach brings people together that really get along,” Marcoux said, “and that’s something we pride ourselves on. The fan base around here is great, I love our stadium and I love the fans we get out here.”
For the first time in its three seasons of NCAA tournament eligibility, UC Davis will not be in the running for a possible national championship.
JOHN S. HELLER can be reached at email@example.com.