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Davis, California

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Aggies slip on road

The UC Davis men’s soccer program’s three game winning streak was ended on Wednesday when it dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 23 UC Santa Barbara.

UCSB is the very team that handed the UC Davis its last loss before the Aggies strung together the three straight victories that put them at the top of the Big West Conference.

With the loss the Aggies fell to 7-7-2 on the year, and moved to second in the Big West with a record of 5-3.

Despite the Aggies’ nine-point advantage over the Gauchos in the conference standings prior to the match, it would be a stretch to say UC Davis entered the game as the favorite — playing at Santa Barbara in front of a crowd of 2,456 Gaucho fans.

Looking to prove they weren’t out of the season just yet, the Gauchos showed why they are atop the Big West in nearly every offensive statistic. They got the first lead of the game in the 37th minute when a free kick got through the UC Davis defense and UCSB’s Tim Pontius knocked the ball in to put the Gauchos up 1-0.

Keeping UC Davis on its back foot, UCSB tacked on another goal in the 61st minute on a bizarre play that found sophomore goalkeeper Omar Zeenni way out of position. Pontius seized the opportunity and put a shot from 61 yards out into the wide-open goal for a 2-0 Gaucho lead.

The Aggies struck right back not three minutes later when freshman Matt Wiesenfarth got the ball to junior Dan Reese, who scored to bring the game to a 2-1 score.

“Even if we do give up the first goal or two, we have the confidence that we can score 2 goals and come back,” Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “We’ve proven we can play from behind this season.”

Despite the optimism, UC Davis could not pull the same late game magic they had so many times before. The Gauchos even extended their lead in the 77th minute to beat the Aggies 3-1.

“They’re ranked 23 in the nation. We went down there and played hard,” Shaffer said. “I thought we played well because it’s an outstanding place to play.”

UCSB is now responsible for two of UC Davis’s three conference losses.

“It just wasn’t our day, but we’re moving forward and we can still achieve our goal of the Big West Conference Tournament,” Shaffer said.

MATTHEW YUEN can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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