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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Field hockey: UC Davis gets first ever NorPac Conference win

UC Davis entered its final home game of the year still in search of the first NorPac victory in program history.

The Aggies had been close, losing two overtime games to conference opponents, but they wanted to finish their home season on the right foot.

Standing in their way was Pacific.

The game began as a back and forth contest.

Both teams had opportunities early in the first half, but it was the Aggies who struck first, on a goal from freshman Cloey LemMon in the 25th minute.

UC Davis controlled the game from that point well into the second half, keeping Pacific scoreless for the first 54 minutes of the game.

The Tigers, however, were able to find their way to the cage in the 54th, when Kelly Perkins put the ball past UC Davis goalkeeper Lauren Sawvelle.

The Aggies responded well after the Tiger goal, attacking the Pacific net.

UC Davis seemed to have scored in the 67th minute, when a shot from distance flew past the Pacific keeper, but the goal was deemed to have come from outside the circle and the score was disallowed by the officials.

The Aggies were close to scoring a late shot from sophomore Lindsey Valadez, but she was denied by Pacific goalkeeper Ashlee Schlesier.

Regulation ended with the score tied at one and Aggies found themselves in overtime for the third straight home game.

The Aggies were not happy with having to play the extra period.

“When the game went to overtime we were upset,” said coach Vianney Campos. “We knew that it shouldn’t’ have gotten there. We’d beaten Pacific [in an exhibition match] before and we felt it shouldn’t have made it that far.”

The Aggies used their frustration as motivation in the extra period.

UC Davis created several early opportunities and finally broke through in the 76th minute when sophomore Nadia Namdari put the ball past the Pacific keeper to end the game.

Campos knew that Namdari could find the cage if given the opportunity.

“Nadia is our go-to player when it comes to scoring,” she said. “She’s dynamic with the ball. We look for her when we need a goal.”

For Namdari, it was a relief when the ball made its way past the goalie.

“When I took the shot I was just thinking ‘please go in,'” she said. “Fortunately it went under their keeper’s foot and we scored. It felt so good to see that all our hard work paid off.”

For UC Davis the goal meant more than just another win.

The game marked the Aggies first ever NorPac victory in their two-year history and it took some pressure off the team.

“It’s awesome,” Campos said. “It’s a huge weight off our shoulders.”

It also shows how much UC Davis field hockey has improved as a program.

“It’s huge for the team to reach this point,” Campos said. “It keeps our momentum moving forward. We’ve already surpassed our win total from last year. It just shows how much our program has grown.”

TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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