The young UC Davis men’s soccer program got their first chance to play under the stadium lights at Cal State Northridge this season, and they seized their opportunity in the limelight.
In yet another overtime game, the Aggies pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Matadors for their second road win of the season.
“It’s great to get a win on the road, especially in our conference,” head coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “The last time we played them it was probably our worst performances of the season so it was good that we came here and got a win.”
The game was knotted in a scoreless battle for the duration of the first half, but things quickly unfolded in the second.
Freshman Matt Sheldon recorded his first goal of the season in the 71st minute when the Aggies countered from a Matador attack. CSU Northridge turned the ball over and junior Dan Reese got the ball to Sheldon who found the net to break the goose egg tie.
The celebration was short lived though, as CSU Northridge evened the game again in the 78th minute. This tie would stand for the remaining 12 minutes of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Wasting no time, Sheldon recovered another Matador turnover in their goal box and scored to give UC Davis a victory just past the 93-minute mark.
These were Sheldon’s first two goals of the season, and what a time for them to come. It also marked the first time an Aggie has scored twice in a game since 2009.
“Matt [Sheldon] came off the bench and scored both our goals,” Shaffer said. “That shows our depth played a big part in today’s game.”
Statistics would indicate that CSU Northridge had the upper hand in the game. They recorded 20 shots compared to UC Davis’ seven. Yet, only six Matador attempts were on goal, and sophomore goalie Omar Zeenni stopped five of those.
If there’s anything to be learned from these numbers, it is that they do, in fact, lie. Just as the game’s statistics reveal little about the result of the game, the Aggies’ 5-6-2 record neglects the close games and wins over higher ranked opponents.
“We played really good defense, plus Omar had five saves. It was definitely a 50/50 game, where we both had our dangerous opportunities in the game,” Shaffer said.
Following their 2-1 overtime loss to UCSB last week, the Aggies had the week off, which meant they were well rested for their match-up against CSU Northridge.
“Our guys were physically and mentally prepared,” Shaffer said. “We worked less on fitness and more on recovery like ice baths and stretching. They needed that break.”
Before Saturday’s game, the Matadors were the sole leaders in the Big West Conference. Now, the Aggies are tied for second place with Cal Poly and CSU Northridge behind No. 7 UC Irvine.
The win was UC Davis’s third in their past four games, propelling their conference record to 3-2. The Aggies move on to UC Irvine on Wednesday, where they will take on the nationally ranked Anteaters.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at email@example.com.