UC Davis had two key Big West Conference matchups as they entered the stretch run of the regular season.
Their contests against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly would set help clarify the playoff picture.
Unfortunately for the Aggies, they took two defeats, but the team still remains in the playoff hunt.
Wednesday – UC Santa Barbara 2, UC Davis 0
UC Davis began the week with a matchup against Big West leader UC Santa Barabara, in what will likely be their final game of the season in Aggie Stadium.
The Aggies chose to make a strategic change, giving 6-4 sophomore forward Dan Reese his first start since Sept. 26.
“Nobody can match [Reese’s] athleticism,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “We felt he would create havoc on their defense and cause some problems up the field.”
Reese did just that when he created the best scoring opportunity for either team in what was otherwise a defensive-minded first half.
The Grass Valley, Calif. native found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the 44th minute, but his chip bounced off the crossbar and was cleared by the Gauchos.
The first half ended with the game scoreless, but it took just six minutes for the Gauchos to find the net in the second frame when Nic Ryan headed the ball into the goal.
It looked like the Aggies may have equalized in the 75th minute, but a shot from senior Nate Javadi was saved off the line.
The Gauchos added a late goal, and the contest ended at the score of 2-0.
Despite the defeat, Shaffer believes the Aggies did a good job of sticking to their strategy.
“We executed out game plan perfectly,” he said. “We wanted to keep the game close and try to catch them on the counter attack. We had chances to score. It was just unfortunate that we gave up a soft first-goal and gave them confidence.”
Despite allowing two goals, defender Javadi believes the Aggies’ back-line performed well.
“We played solid defense,” he said. “Our goalkeeper made some good saves. This one just didn’t go our way.”
Sunday – Cal Poly 2, UC Davis 1
UC Davis tried to bounce back on the road against rival Cal Poly.
The Aggies did not get off to the start they were hoping for, however, as the Mustangs scored in the first 10 minutes of the game, when David Zamora’s header made its way into the net.
Things got worse for UC Davis as Cal Poly’s Junior Burgos scored in the 21st minute to extend the deficit to two.
Giving up early goals is not something the Aggies are used to.
“It was a strange game,” Shaffer said. “They capitalized on a corner, which we usually play really well and they went up early.”
The Aggies got on the board in the 80th minute when freshman Kevin Schulte scored on an assist from an Alex Henry corner kick.
It was the Schulte’s first career goal and the first regulation goal for the Aggies in three games.
UC Davis was unable to find a second however, and they took a 2-1 defeat.
Despite the two losses, the Aggies remained tied for third in the Big West, although Cal Poly sits just one point behind UC Davis with a game in hand.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.