The UC Davis men’s soccer team defeated UC Santa Barbara in overtime Sunday evening, winning 2-1. UC Davis remains in first place with 18 points and an overall record of 8-5-4 with a Big West Conference record of 6-2. Sacramento State follows in second place with 16 points and Cal Poly is in third with 13 points.
UC Davis swept UCSB for the first time in program history after a strong victory over the Gauchos on Oct. 13. This is also the first time the Aggies have won at Harder Stadium since 2008.
“It’s a great win for the team,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “They’ve worked their tails off and right now they’re playing with confidence. They’re playing good soccer, they’re creating numerous opportunities to score and we’re playing to our strengths. We’re on top of the Big West standings again just like last year so we’re doing the right things with the right kids in our program who are playing hard.”
The Gauchos scored the first goal of the match in the 28th minute to put UCSB up 1-0. Ema Boateng heeled a pass to Achille Campion, who then scored on the back post for his sixth goal of the season. Both teams continued to exchange the ball for the duration of the half until there were three seconds left in the first half.
Sophomore forward Matt Sheldon managed to equalize the game just a few seconds before the halftime buzzer. Freshman forward Ryan Gross crossed the ball over to sophomore defender Ramon Martin del Campo after Gaucho defender Peter Schmetz headed the ball away to the left sideline. In the midst of a tussle in front of the box, Martin del Campo managed to find a way to slip the ball to Sheldon, who tucked away the shot in the lower-left corner of the goal.
The Aggies were able to regroup and regain confidence during the halftime. UC Davis and UCSB continued to fight and battle each other for duration of the second half. Junior Omar Zeenni and the UC Davis defense shut off the Gauchos with 26 blocks. Zeenni finished the match with six huge saves.
“Omar was awesome,” Shaffer said. “He played outstanding. He’s performed well for us all season and when we needed him to step up and make some big saves today, he was there for us. Ramon was outstanding in the air and won many head balls. [Sophomore] Brian Ford shut down their attack and [junior] Alex Henry and Gross were, once again, outstanding as fullbacks and helped us on the attack as well.”
The game proceeded to roll over into overtime as both teams remained tied at 1-1. Midway through the first overtime period, Sheldon captured the victory for the Aggies. Gross forced Gaucho goalkeeper Austin Mansker to come out of the box.
Sheldon took advantage of a rebound opportunity and struck a shot that was deflected away by defenders Daniel Welsh and Peter McGlynn. Sheldon capitalized on his second chance when the rebound came back to him.
“Sheldon had a great day and he has really turned his game up to another level in the past couple of weeks, which has been great and has helped our team tremendously,” said Shaffer. “The two goals that were scored both came off of set pieces and he was in the right place at the right time.”
The Aggies will host Cal Poly on Wednesday before finishing at home against Sacramento State. The game will begin at 3 p.m. at Aggie Soccer Field. This past game, the Mustangs lost to Sacramento State 3-2 and hold third place in the Big West.
UC Davis and Cal Poly last met on October 16th when the Aggies won 1-0. Expect this upcoming match to be exciting as UC Davis tries to extend its winning streak to three games on Halloween.
VEENA BANSAL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.