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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

UC Davis soccer shocks UCLA

“Soccer is a funny game. In the game of soccer, you always have a chance to win.”

Coach Dwayne Shaffer couldn’t have summed up the weekend any better, as UC Davis men’s soccer overcame a draw against a beatable Seattle University side on Friday to post a shocking upset over No. 6 UCLA on Sunday.

This was an encouraging start for the Aggies as they kicked off a four-game home stand, walking away from the first two games with a 1-1-1 record.

Friday- UC Davis 1, Seattle University 1 (2OT)

UC Davis found itself trailing early in its first home game of the year.

The Redhawks pulled ahead with a goal in the sixth minute, but the Aggies struck back when sophomore Kevin Schulte found the net on an assist from junior Ethan Shawlee in the 24th.

Both teams battled to gain the advantage for the rest of the game, but neither team was able to claim the victory and the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate. UC Davis totaled 24 shots in the match, doubling Seattle University’s 12. Freshman Eddie Manella led the Aggies with five attempts on goal.

Sunday- UC Davis 2, No. 6 UCLA 1 (OT)

As shadows slowly crept across the field, it was almost like a movie scene. UC Davis’s light was about to run out and it was just a matter of time before UCLA would pull out the tricks that had propelled them to a perennial top-10 national ranking.

But for every UCLA trick, UC Davis had an answer. There would be nothing overshadowing UC Davis men’s soccer on this day, as they pulled out a 2-1 upset in a dramatic overtime victory.

The first half was a battle, with UCLA controlling possession downfield for the majority of time, but stellar defense from UC Davis kept the onslaught of UCLA shots at bay.

The Aggies got on the board in the 47th minute when Alex Aguiar fired a hard shot that squirted through the hands of the UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edward’s hands and found its way into the net.

UC Davis seemed to control the game from there, but a few late shots from the Bruins required sophomore goalkeeper Omar Zeenni into some incredible saves.

Tempers flared late, as Bruin Ryan Lee was issued a red card for knocking down Aggie Ian Palmer in a post-foul confrontation in the 82nd minute.

With UCLA reduced to 10-men, and just eight minutes remaining, UC Davis seemed sure to win, but a late miscue on the back line gave the Bruins a prime scoring chance and they capitalized, tying the game at one with three minutes remaining.

A shocked UC Davis held off the Bruins for the remainder of regulation, and the game moved to overtime.

The extra-period went back and forth with both team getting opportunities, but it seemed a second overtime would ensue.

Then the unthinkable happened.

With 30 seconds left in the first overtime, sophomore Alex Henry nailed a shot from the left side across to the lower right corner of the net, earning UC Davis the golden goal victory.

“I was making runs all game down the left side, I knew my team would get me the ball eventually,” Henry said. “We knew going into overtime we had a real good chance of winning so we just stayed strong.”

Shaffer was proud of his entire team, crediting his defense and the young players who have stepped it up this season.

“Our team executed our tactics perfectly today,” he said. “It’s a young team that’s going to get better as we go.”

Despite the grandeur of the victory, the Aggies’ season is hardly over as they close the weekend at 1-1-1, and look to carry their momentum to their home matches against Oregon State on Friday and Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday.

“We are going to enjoy the victory, beating UCLA at our place,” Shaffer said. “It’s a huge win for our program as well as the entire athletic program.”

MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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