It was a week the UC Davis players will never forget.
In two nail-biters, the Aggies upset No. 4 UC Irvine in overtime and overcame a late deficit to defeat Cal Poly.
“The team has been in so many tight games, we kind of have the ‘Here we go again’ feeling when we play overtime,” said coach Dwayne Shaffer. “Now we have an experienced group…you can see the progression as we’re now over .500.”
The pair of victories vaulted UC Davis into a tie for first place in the Big West Conference at the league record of 5-2 – 7-6-2 on the year.
Wednesday – UC Davis 2, UC Irvine 1 (OT)
The Anteaters were playing at their home stadium, but never had a chance to feel comfortable in Wednesday night’s game.
UC Davis knocked them off their first place standing, pulling off an overtime upset over the fourth ranked team in the nation.
Sophomore Kevin Schulte scored both goals for the Aggies, but by no means was it a one-man show.
The Anteaters played a strong first half and scored in the 28th minute.
“Once they got that goal, they got better and we had to fight out of a hole,” Shaffer said. “But at halftime we made some adjustments, we were going at them and we were the better fitter team.”
The Aggies’ stamina showed in the second frame, as Schulte headed the ball into the net in the 60th minute to tie the game.
The game remained knotted at one as regulation expired and UC Davis entered its ninth overtime game of the season.
Then, with a little over a minute remaining in the first extra period, Schulte dealt the blow that felled the Big West giants, knocking in the goal that stunned the Anteaters. Shaffer, though, knows it was not luck that carried the team to victory.
“We were going at them so hard and we had so many chances to score,” he said. “Finally we got [the first goal] and you could sense the second was going to come. Our depth took over.”
Saturday – UC Davis 2, Cal Poly 1
Saturday looked like it might have been Cal Poly’s day.
The Mustangs missed a penalty kick in the 24th minute of the first half, but found the net in the 66th minute when a strike from outside the box flew over the outstretched arm of sophomore goalkeeper Omar Zeenni and into the UC Davis net.
The last time the Aggies played the Mustangs, freshman Matt Wiesenfarth knocked in a goal with six minutes left to lift the Aggies to victory. This time, Wiesenfarth didn’t wait quite as long.
With eight minutes remaining in regulation, Wiesenfarth beat two defenders on the right side and tied the game with a shot that glided across the box and into the opposite corner of the goal.
All signs pointed to yet another overtime game until the Aggies drew a penalty kick just four minutes later.
With the pressure mounting, sophomore midfielder Alex Aguiar drilled a penalty kick that glanced off the goalkeeper’s hands and into the goal.
“The guys are proving they can come from behind,” Shaffer said. “Once we got the first, I thought we were going to win.”
Indeed, the Aggies held on for the final four minutes and took the 2-1 victory.
UC Davis will continue its run through the Big West when it plays at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday.
MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.