Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Santa Barbara
Records: Aggies 7-6-2 (5-2-0); Gauchos 9-5-1 (2-4-0)
Where: Meredith Field at Harder Stadium, Santa Barbara – Calif.
When: Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Who to watch: Alex Aguiar scored his second goal of the season in the Aggies’ victory over Cal Poly on a penalty kick.
The sophomore midfielder has started every game and is tied on the team for most shots taken. Aguiar took three shots last time UC Davis played the Gauchos and four shots in the Aggies’ most recent game against Cal Poly.
Did you know? Some teams enjoy home field advantage, but UC Santa Barbara is in a league of its own.
For the past four years, UCSB has led the nation in average attendance. Last year, they totaled 70,471 fans over the season, giving them an average of 5,873 fans per game. A full game at UC Davis consists of about 1,200 fans.
The perennial soccer powerhouse offers giveaways like the pros. Their last offer on Saturday – megaphones – brought in over 4,900 fans.
It is also tradition for the Gaucho fans to toss celebratory tortillas on the field after their team wins.
Preview: Having won its past three games, and five of its last six, UC Davis holds a winning record for the first time since it opened the 2009 season 2-0.
The Aggies stand atop the Big West Conference at 7-6-2 with a 5-2 league record and are now the team to beat.
UC Davis has really gotten the ball rolling, sweeping the conference awards for the second consecutive week.
For the second time in a row, sophomore goalkeeper Omar Zeenni was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week for being essentially impervious as goalie.
Sophomore Kevin Schulte followed freshman Matt Sheldon as the Offensive Player of the Week after providing the two goals that stunned the No. 4 UC Irvine.
UCSB has not played up to expectations and currently stands in sixth place in conference, but is in no way a walkover. They are 2-4 in league, but one of those victories was over UC Davis. Head coach Dwayne Shaffer knows not to underestimate the Gauchos, but is also excited about playing in Santa Barbara.
“That is the greatest place to play men’s college soccer…When you go down there, it gets you jacked up to play,” he said.
Shaffer, as he has said the whole season, believes his team’s performance has improved every game and will give the Gauchos a good fight.
“They’re so mentally tough now because each game has been close. You can’t train that kind of fight in practice, you just have to experience it,” he said.
This experience is a guarantee for the upcoming game, as the Aggies hope to continue their winning ways in front of the toughest crowd in college soccer.
– Matthew Yuen