It was a heartbreaking Friday for the Aggies, as the UC Davis men’s soccer team fell by the score of 3-2 to Sacramento State in yet another double overtime nail-biter.
In a game that can hardly be labeled as your typical dogfight, the sun beat down on players for 103 minutes of back and forth soccer. As heat hovered around 95 degrees, the intensity also rose, resulting in seven total yellow cards.
“Anybody that’s watching the team play has got to be impressed by how hard the team is playing,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “All I can ask is the kids keep working hard and improving.”
The Aggies first got on the board in the 12th minute when sophomore Elliot Hord knocked in a ball that was pinballing around the goalie box.
Sacramento State came close to answering just a minute later when a ball that appeared to score but was on the outside of the net. They would not pull even until the 25th minute on a hard shot just outside of the goal box.
In the second half, both teams had their fair share of opportunities and scares but it seemed that UC Davis had more of each.
The Aggies threatened to score so many times it was almost disheartening, but they kept fighting, with shots from freshmen Matt Sheldon and Matt Wiesenfarth bouncing off the net posts and failing just outside the edges of the goal.
The Hornets finally got a second shot past sophomore goalie Omar Zeenni in the 82nd minute.
This late score all but crushed the hopes of the Aggies, but in a state of desperation, Wiesenfarth drilled a shot into the upper left corner of the net in the 86th minute to keep UC Davis alive and usher the game into overtime.
The golden goal came three minutes into the second overtime, a blow to the hearts of all Aggie fans and players, when Sacramento State found the UC Davis goal following a chaotic corner kick.
“Experience was the difference today – they’re much older than us,” head coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “We’re creating enough chances to win games and we’re defending well.”
The Aggies have gone into overtime six times out of their eight regular season games, four of those carrying into a second overtime period. Each of these games could have gone either way, yet the Aggies hold just a 2-4-2 record.
“They’re growing pains, but overall I’m proud of my team,” Shaffer said. “The results will fall our way soon.”
With the loss, UC Davis concludes non-conference play and will open its Big West Conference season with a matchup against Cal State Northridge on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Aggie Soccer Field.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.