Coach Jamey Wright knew the UC Irvine Anteater Invitational would be the Aggies’ toughest tournament of the season.
He wasn’t surprised.
“We went down to play four top 20 teams and that’s what we got,” Wright said.
UC Davis (7-9) went 1-3 at the Anteater Invitational with freshman Jessica Dunn leading the Aggies with seven goals for the weekend. Senior Casey Hines had 29 saves over the four games.
Saturday – No. 4 California 13, No. 15 UC Davis 5
UC Davis met a familiar foe when they played Cal for their first game of the weekend, and for the second time this season, the Golden Bears had the Aggies number.
UC Davis stayed with Cal for the first half as the score was 5-3 entering the break.
A strong Golden Bear third quarter quieted any thoughts of an upset. Cal outscored the Aggies 8-2 after halftime to secure the 13-5 victory. Senior Dana Nelson led the Aggies with two goals.
“We played great for two and a half quarters,” Wright said. “We started to sub a lot after halftime and Cal took advantage.”
Wright has been stressing all season for his team to play a complete game, something they lacked against the Golden Bears.
“To play a complete game we have to focus all 32 minutes,” Wright said. “I don’t think we did that very well against Cal.”
Saturday – No. 11 UC Irvine 9, UC Davis 8
Sometimes the last two minutes of a game can be the most important.
A UC Irvine goal with 2:25 left in the game sealed the victory for the host Anteaters.
UC Davis fought back from a 5-3 halftime deficit to tie the score late in the game, but UC Irvine was too much.
“I was disappointed with the Irvine game,” Wright said. “We let this one get away from us late in the game.”
Sunday – UC Davis 8, Long Beach State 7
The Aggies’ only victory of the weekend might have been one of their most important wins of the season.
“We beat a conference team,” Wright said. “It’s always important to get early wins over Big West Conference teams.”
Sophomore Kaylee Miller’s second goal of the match was a game winner with 1:38 remaining in the close contest. Miller’s first goal came with seven seconds left in the first half to give UC Davis a 5-4 lead entering the break. Dunn and sophomore Carey Faber netted two goals each.
Despite the key win over a Big West foe, Wright still noticed some things the Aggies need to work on.
“We missed a ton of shots,” Wright said. “But we controlled the tempo and closed the game out.”
Sunday – No. 13 San Diego State 11, UC Davis 8
In the final game of the weekend, San Diego State jumped out to a 5-0 first quarter lead to secure the victory.
“We played horrible in the first quarter,” Wright said. “It might have been our worst quarter of the tournament.”
Despite the poor start, the Aggies outscored the Aztecs 8-6 for the rest of the game. Freshman Kathryn Bailey earned her first two collegiate goals in the loss.
“We were able to get a lot of bench players in,” Wright said. “I was very impressed with their play.”
After four straight road tournaments to start the season, UC Davis hosts the two-day, five-game Aggie Shootout tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.