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Thursday, May 23, 2024

UC Davis field hockey continues to grow

The Aggies are hoping the third year’s the charm.

In its first two years as a field hockey program, UC Davis showed a great deal of improvement. After going 3-15 in their inaugural 2009 season, the Aggies made it to 7-10 last year and tallied the first two NorPac Conference wins in school history.

As UC Davis enters year three, it is looking to continue building on its success.

“The first few years we really tried to keep things simple,” said coach Vianney Campos. “This year we’ve really been able to add to what we’re able to do.”

The Aggies got off to a perfect start, beating NorPac foe Pacific 3-1 in their season opener. Not only did UC Davis win, but it put on a dominating performance, outshooting Pacific 31-3. The contest gave the Aggies the confidence they needed as they started the year.

“It was big for us to create some momentum and to give us some confidence early on,” Campos said . “It was good to see that all of our hard work was paying off.”

Since that point, however, the Aggies have struggled to find the win column. UC Davis went 1-5 on a pair of road-trips, moving their season record to 2-5 overall. Despite the string of tough results, the Aggies are not discouraged by the way their season is going.

“We’ve had a few disappointing losses,” Campos said. “But we’re just continuing to build so we’re prepared for conference, which is our main focus.”

The Aggies have missed the goal-scoring touch of junior Nadia Namdari, who has started the year cold. Namdari led the Aggies with eight goals and five assists last season, but the Escondido, Calif. native has yet to get on the score-sheet in either statistic this season, despite taking 22 shots.

Despite Namdari’s slow start, Campos is confident that she will be able to get back on track.

“She’s a scorer and she knows how to put the ball in the cage,” Campos said. “Teams are constantly double-teaming her so it’s been difficult, but I have no doubt that she’ll come around and do as well as she did last year if not better.”

With the lack of production from Namdari, the UC Davis spread the scoring around. Nine different Aggies have found cage this season, with junior forward Emily Mecke leading the squad with three scores.

UC Davis has also focused on its defense, anchored by the backline group of juniors Lydia Brambila, Kelly Dudek, Kristen Lopez and Casey Wollbrink.

“We have a lot of players [on defense] who are team leaders, and they’re constantly playing 65 to 70 minutes per game,” Campos said. “They do a great job of keeping our formation tight, and they also help us create some offensive opportunities by passing the ball into good areas.”

UC Davis will continue its season Sunday with the second of their three home games – a NorPac matchup against Stanford. The Aggies fell just short in a 2-1 overtime loss when they faced the Cardinal at Aggie Stadium last year. With one NorPac win already in hand, Campos knows a win over Stanford could be a huge boost for the UC Davis.

“It would be absolutely huge,” Campos said. “We have a lot of confidence that at home we can take on anyone. We’re excited for it, and we’re good enough to take them on and beat them.”

A win would also move the Aggies one step closer to their ultimate goal – a NorPac title.

“One of the unique things about our conference is that anyone can win at any time,” Campos said. “One of the advantages we have is that we know these teams very well, and I feel good about our chances to do well this season.”

TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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