You don’t get credit for almost winning.
The women’s soccer team knows this all too well.
This weekend, the Aggies took on both Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State at Aggie Soccer Field. Though UC Davis established leads in both games, it had difficulty in closing out the matches.
“The challenge is to stay focused and play a full 90 minutes,” said women’s coach Maryclaire Robinson.
Friday – Cal State Fullerton 3, UC Davis 2
The game started off white-hot, as both teams scrambled to get control of the ball and attack the other’s defense.
Though Fullerton was on attack throughout most of the game, the Aggies put together a string of nice passes and gave junior Lisa Kemp the ball from outside the box. Following some nice footwork, her shot nicked the crossbar and went in for the score.
Cal State Fullerton would answer on a defensive breakdown. Titan Jennifer Smith wound up with the ball deep in the Aggies’ third of the field. As goalkeeper Kathleen Brandl exited the goal to try and cut off Smith, Brandl came up on the short end of the gamble as Smith knocked her shot in.
Unfortunately, the Aggies have been without some key players due to injury. Instead of being able to execute a game plan with efficient passing, the pace of the game seemed too fast for the Aggies as they struggled to make good passes.
Cal State Fullerton hit the ground running in the second half as they managed to score less than a minute in.
More bad news came in the second period.
After a collision with one of the Titans, Kemp would have to leave the field under her own power.
“You never want to have strong kids sitting on the bench,” Robinson said. “You never want the injuries we’ve had this year. Even without [Kemp], we have to find a way to get ourselves [in the game].”
Several Aggies seemed to take it upon themselves to fill the void left by Kemp. Aisha Lott continued her stellar play as she spearheaded a defense that seemed to bend but not break.
Annacy Wilson would rise to the occasion as she found the back of the net for her second score of the season.
Though Fullerton would make the final goal of the game in the 72nd minute, the Aggies would not go down so easy. On a corner kick deep in Titan territory, the Aggies posted shot after shot but came up empty.
“I think this is one of those games where you kick yourself walking back to the car because we certainly had done enough,” Robinson said. “It was just a battle of who’s going to get the breaks. They just got one over us.”
Sunday – San Jose State 2, UC Davis 1
Like the game against the Titans, this game was also physical, resulting in three yellow cards for the Aggies. It was the aggressive nature of the game that resulted in a scoreless first period, even though the Aggies posted four shots on goal.
Aggie fans would be relieved to see Kemp on the field despite her injury suffered in Friday’s loss. Instead of sitting on the bench, she again scored the first goal of the game, giving UC Davis a lead in 69th minute.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lived, as San Jose State put together two nice drives in the final 11 minutes.
In the 79th minute, Spartan Cheryl Kute tied the game on a long shot from outside of 25 yards. San Jose State continued to chip away at the Aggie defense, resulting in a Katie Knopp put-back, go-ahead goal with less that two minutes remaining.
“We had enough dangerous opportunities to really convert and put the game away,” Robinson said. “To not do that and have it slip away in the last couple minutes – this one stings a bit.”
Still, Robinson remains optimistic that things will turn around.
“It’s taking us a little bit longer to get consistent and organized, but we’ll get there.”
With the tough losses, the Aggies are no longer undefeated at home and drop to 5-7-1. They travel to play conference opponent UC Santa Barbara on Friday at 5 p.m.
MATT WANG can be reached as firstname.lastname@example.org.