Teams: UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies, 2-6-0; Gauchos, 3-1-2
Where: Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: UC Davis has been looking for a second scoring threat and one of the most likely candidates is sophomore Michael Garrick.
The Hayward, Calif. native is second on the team with 15 shots, seven of which were on goal. He is also one of the five Aggies to have scored and has started six of the team’s eight games.
Did you know? Every road game is tough, but UC Davis will enter an especially hostile environment in Santa Barbara.
The Gauchos drew a crowd on nearly 16,000 for a recent game against UCLA and the Aggies expect the stadium to be loud.
“It’s going to be an incredible environment,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “Every college player in America dreams of playing in a stadium like that.”
Preview: UC Davis will face a challenge not only from the crowd but from a solid Gauchos team as well.
Last year Santa Barbara was the Big West Conference regular season champion. Despite starting slow, the Gauchos are on a three-game winning streak.
The Aggies expect to see the best the Gauchos have to offer.
“[The Gauchos] are going to be excited and fired up,” Shaffer said. “They’re going to be well prepared and they’ll come to play.”
UC Davis will need to be at the top of their game to be successful against Santa Barbara.
This could be a difficult task as the Aggies are coming off of a four-game losing streak and have lost all six of their road games this year.
UC Davis’ record is somewhat misleading, however, as five of the Aggies’ six loses have been by a single goal.
“We’ve played some close games,” Shaffer said. “None of the teams we’ve played have been better than us, but we haven’t played better than the other teams.”
Still, the Aggies know they will need to show improvement if they hope to be successful this weekend.
“We’re looking to play better soccer,” Shaffer said. “We’re going to keep working hard. We need to play to our strengths and stay focused. We need to play harder and smarter. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that and things will get better.”
For UC Davis it will also be key to show its mental toughness.
“Our team needs to show what it can do,” Shaffer said. “They need to show some Aggie pride.”
– Trevor Cramer