The men’s soccer team’s solid defensive efforts for the entirety of the season would not have been as phenomenal if it hadn’t been for freshman defender Ryan Gross. In spite of being a freshman, Gross earned a starting position for the majority of the games and patrolled the backline for most of the Aggies’ playing time.
Gross was on fire early on in the season, particularly in the matchup against Tulsa. Gross scored two goals to lead the Aggies to a 2-1 victory. His first goal was off of a corner kick in the 17th minute to give the Aggies the lead. In the middle of the second half, Gross lined up a direct free kick from 20 yards that sailed into the top left corner of the goal to seal the victory for the team.
In UC Davis’ 3-1 win over UC Irvine, Gross was credited with his third assist of the year after he launched one of his patented throw-ins into the penalty area.
Gross’s throw-ins and defensive play have been particularly remarkable throughout the course of the games. In the Aggies’ win over UCSB, Gross forced Gaucho goalkeeper Austin Mansker to come out and punch the ball away with this long throw. In general, Gross’s strong defensive efforts have continuously forced opponents to perform at their highest level in order to score goals against the Aggies.
“It means a lot to me to get this honor,” Gross said. “Even though the end of the season was rough, I’m glad with what we accomplished as a team. I’m excited for next season — I think we’ll have a lot of new talent on the team.”
— Veena Bansal