Teams: UC Davis vs. Dominican; vs. Chico State
Records: Aggies, 0-0-0; Penguins 0-0-0; Wildcats 0-0-0
Where: Aggie Stadium
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 11 a.m.
Who to watch: Senior goalkeeper Ryan McGowan started nearly every game for the Aggies last season and will be expected to perform well this year. The goaltender is one of just seven UC Davis upper-classmen.
The Lafayette, Calif. native had a save percentage of .671 and posted three shutouts in 2009.
Did you know? UC Davis will play five games in Aggie Stadium this season, beginning with their exhibition vs. Dominican. The Aggies, however, are eager for chance to play in the larger venue.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “It gives us the chance to draw bigger crowds and create more community excitement.”
Preview: After graduating the team’s two leading scorers in 2009, the Aggies were left with a simple dilemma: where will the goals come from in 2010?
“That’s the million dollar question,” Shaffer said. “We hope that John Joslin will be able to score goals for us this season.”
Joslin started just six games as a freshman last year, but he was still able to score three goals, good for third best on the team.
In addition, the Aggies will be looking for scoring from some of last season’s defensive players.
“We’ve moved Dan Reese and Lance Patterson into attacking positions,” Shaffer said “That should give us some speed and strength up front.”
UC Davis might also have other potential scoring threats in new recruits Alex Henry and Elliott Hord, both of whom will be hoping to make an impression on coach Shaffer in the upcoming exhibition games.
But to Shaffer, exhibitions are about more than just finding the best players.
“Our exhibitions are about three things,” Shaffer said. “They’re about identifying the players who play well, but they’re also a key part of getting new student athletes acclimated to the college game, and gaining experience playing together as a team.”
The exhibitions will also be a chance for many of the Aggies to show the growth they’ve made in the offseason.
The 2009 roster featured 15 freshmen, all of whom gained valuable experience in 2009.
“Last year our players had so much to learn,” Shaffer said. “It takes a lot for a student athlete to get used to college athletics. At the beginning of last year it felt like we were scattered all over, but after winter quarter you could see the maturity starting to build.”
The maturation was physical as well as mental.
“The difference between the body of a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old is significant,” Shaffer said. “Most of our young players came back 15 pounds heavier than they were last year, and it’s all muscle.”
With this extra year of experience under their belts, the Aggies are shooting for the stars this season.
“Our goal is the same this year as it is every year,” Shaffer said, “We want to win a national championship.”
– Trevor Cramer