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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Men’s Soccer: Torture

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, the San Francisco Giants have won the National League Pennant.

The Giants have won the pennant. Just let that stew for a couple minutes.

Throughout this magical season in the city by the bay, there was a saying that went around: “Giants Baseball: Torture.” The phrase was coined by San Francisco commentator Duane Kuiper due the magnitude of close games and heart wrenching moments throughout the season.

There’s a team at UC Davis that’s going through a similar season.

The men’s soccer squad has seven wins on the year (as of press time) – six of which have been decided by one goal. Six of the Aggies’ 10 losses were by one goal. Five of UC Davis’ matches had to be decided in overtime – the Aggies have won three of them.

Just by looking at those stats, you’d expect coach Dwayne Schaffer to have no hair. After 13 seasons coaching the Aggies, Schaffer almost expects these kinds of outcomes.

“Soccer is always a competitive sport,” he said. “In the Big West [Conference] especially, all the teams are so close so all the games are really tight.

“I always hear the same comments from the audience about how close and competitive the games are. To me, they’re all like that and it’s become common place to watch one-goal games.”

Aside from UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, who are running away atop the Big West conference, there is a lot of parity in the league. Only six points separate the next six teams in the Big West.

Therefore, as much as Schaffer wants to watch his team jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, he knows that’s probably not going to happen in this conference – so he prepares for a one-goal affair.

“When we see the game get close entering the later parts of it, we say ‘here we go again,'” Schaffer said. “We can chuckle about how almost all the games are this close, but you have to accept it because it is just part of the game.”

As much as the fans cringe at the thought of another game going down to the final kick, there is good that comes from one-goal games.

For starters, it keeps all 11 players in the game for at least 90 minutes.

“I keep telling the guys how much experience they gain from the close games,” Schaffer said. “It’s a huge benefit for the young guys to fight through the entire game. It helps them all learn and grow as players.”

This experience can do wonders for any team at any level of athletics, whether it’s recreational, bunch-ball soccer played by 5-year-olds or the fast paced game played at the FIFA World Cup. The more the Aggies play in tight games, the more they will accept it as part of the game. When it gets to crunch time, UC Davis will be so used to the situation, they won’t buckle under the pressure.

Schaffer believes if there is one group of people on the pitch that seems impartial to the excitement, however, it’s the player’s themselves.

“The players don’t feel the same way the coaches or fans when it gets to crunch time,” Schaffer said. “The players are way more calm and relaxed to play the game they’ve been training to do.”

As for the question of if the games are torture or not, Schaffer doesn’t believe so.

“These games are definitely not torture,” Schaffer laughed. “I love it when games are tight. It’s more exciting for the coaching staff, players and the fans.”

JASON ALPERT would like to congratulate The California Aggie for its exciting 1-0 victory over ASUCD Saturday afternoon. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing play of one Adam Loberstein. To talk Aggie Soccer, Giants baseball or the massacre that occurred Saturday afternoon, e-mail JASON ALPERT at sports@theaggie.org.

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