Teams: UC Davis vs. UC Santa Barbara; TBD
Records: Aggies 7-7-4(5-3-2); Gauchos 13-5-1(6-4-0)
Where: Meredith Field at Harder Stadium – Santa Barbara, Calif.
When: Wednesday at 7 p.m.; TBD
Who to watch: If you want to find Lance Patterson, look for the man who towers over the rest. The senior will enter his second and final Big West Conference tournament, with the hope his college career does not end in Santa Barbara.
The Aurora, Colo. native has proven to be a multi-faceted force everywhere on the field. He terrorized opponents last year, leading the Aggies in almost every offensive category. Then he made the switch this year to defense, shutting down threats on the UC Davis goal.
Patterson gained a starting job his freshman year, the last time UC Davis made it to the NCAA tournament, and has been a mainstay of the Aggie lineup ever since. Patterson has played almost every minute the Aggies have been on the field, and will be an essential part in leading the young UC Davis team.
Did you know? The Aggies were one win away from home field advantage for any Big West Conference championship games they played.
Settling for ties in their final two games, UC Davis missed out on the number one seed, and will travel to No. 17 UC Santa Barbara as the third seed.
The Aggies have not beaten the Gauchos the past three times they have played at Meredith Field, with their last victory in Santa Barbara coming on Oct. 11, 2008.
Preview: This is it. All the overtime minutes (about 138 extra minutes, equivalent to more than a game and a half) have led to this game.
Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer said his team’s goal from the beginning was to make it to the Big West Tournament for a chance to battle for an NCAA Tournament bid. The first step has been checked off the list, and now the Aggies must take on the 17th-ranked Gaucho team in Santa Barbara.
UC Davis has dropped two decisions to UCSB this year, but this upcoming game will be the battle that truly matters. The Aggies have abundant experience in close games, as all but two of their games this season have been decided by one goal or ended in a tie.
“The big thing is, we’ve gained a lot of experience playing in tight games,” Shaffer said. “They’ve grown as a team and all of that will help us against Santa Barbara.”
Should the Aggies win against UCSB, they will move on to the conference finals, which will take place on Saturday. A loss would result in the end of the 2011 campaign for Aggie soccer.
“We are going to the best place in America to play college soccer,” Shaffer said. “It’s an exciting time, I know the guys will be excited for it and hopefully we will give UCSB all they can handle.”
— Matthew Yuen