Teams: UC Davis vs. Chico State (Exhibition); at Saint Mary’s
Records: Aggies 0-0; Wildcats 0-0; Gaels 0-0
Where: Aggie Soccer Field; Saint Mary’s Stadium – Moraga, Calif.
When: Tuesday at 5 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m.
Who to Watch: Kevin Schulte is the kind of player that makes an offense flow. Schulte provided a steady pressure on opposing goals and also led the team in assists in his first season last year.
Schulte jump-started this year by tallying both a goal and an assist in the opening scrimmage victory against Cal State East Bay.
Did you know? The UC Davis men’s soccer team will have many familiar faces on the field when they open the season. Among them is junior Dan Reese, who spent his time at striker last season but will return to his natural position at defense, according to Coach Dwayne Shaffer.
The Grass Valley, Calif. native performed and adjusted well in the team’s time of need, but Shaffer hopes returning Reese to his old position will result in a stronger back line.
Preview: The Aggies will have their final exhibition game against Chico State, a preseason tune up they have played for the past three years.
“It gives a lot of players experience and grooms those that have earned the opportunity to play from the preseason,” Shaffer said.
The Aggies looked sharp in their first exhibition game, posting a dominating 6-1 win over CSU East Bay. Freshmen Matt Sheldon and Matt Wiesenfarth combined to score five goals in the contest.
Shaffer expects the young talent to eventually bolster the team’s performance even more as they acclimate better to the intense environment of NCAA soccer. With 18 of the 28 players being freshmen or sophomores, the Aggies will be looking to gain experience and learn as they go.
After the scrimmage against Chico State, though, the real pressure will begin.
“Saint Mary’s is a good team, and we are playing down at their place,” Shaffer said. “It’s always a tough task to go on the road for your first game.”
UC Davis has played the Gaels many times in the past, and Shaffer likes his squad’s chances for the game on Saturday. Emphasizing the depth and talent on the Aggies’ roster, Shaffer claims the key to victory will be focusing on their own game.
“We are familiar with them, so our main focus is to concern ourselves with how we play,” Shaffer said. “We are young but we don’t want to change the way we play.”
Shaffer emphasized that UC Davis has a young roster that is looking to prove that it has the depth to go the distance. This week’s matchups will be the first steps in setting the tone for the long haul this season.
– Matthew Yuen