UC Davis kicked off their season in a match-up that is fast becoming one of the biggest rivalries in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation – their annual game against California.
Despite a back and forth contest, UC Davis fell to the Golden Bears 15-11.
The teams were neck and neck through the first half and the Aggies entered the break trailing by a single goal.
UC Davis was able to tie things up in the second frame, but Cal took control with 20 minutes remaining by scoring three goals in just over a minute – giving the Golden Bears a 10-7 lead.
All three of those goals were free position shots set up by UC Davis fouls.
“They had three eight-meter shots in a row, all because our defense put them on the line by fouling,” said coach Elaine Jones. “We lost our body position, and they got free shots. It changed the whole game.”
Cal was able to extend its lead to five goals with just over eight minutes left, but the Aggies responded.
Senior Gina Hoffmire scored two late goals, helping the Aggies cut the deficit to two before the Golden Bears closed their 15-11 victory.
Hoffmire finished the game with three goals and one assist, placing all six of her shots on frame.
“She’s very fast and athletic,” said sophomore Elizabeth Datino. “She has a very powerful shot and she always comes in clutch for late goals.”
Despite taking the loss, UC Davis was proud of the way it battled back into the game.
“It’s about completely pulling for your team,” Datino said. “You give your heart out there, and its completely mutual. Unfortunately we fell a little short, but we worked hard all the way to the end.”
Datino led the Aggies with four goals in the game – scoring on each of her shot attempts.
“We saw in the scouting reports that the goalie was very good high,” Datino said, “so I knew I had to make some fakes in order to score, and that really helped me out in getting my goals.”
Despite the performances of Hoffmire and Datino, Jones knows her team could have been better on the offensive end.
“They shot well,” she said, “but we can’t rely on two people. Other people needed to step up. We need to do a better job finishing our shots and we need to execute better on offense.”
Part of UC Davis’ offensive struggles stemmed from the outstanding play of California goalie Allie Shopshire, who finished with 12 saves.
“She’s a very good goalie,” Jones said. “She played really well today, but we knew she would play well and we should have executed.”
While the Aggies are disappointed with the loss, they know that a first game loss will not define their year.
“We’ll keep working hard,” Jones said. “It’s just one game, it’s not the end of the season and we’ll be able to build from this. It’s disappointing today, but we need to be looking ahead now instead of worrying about this loss.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.