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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Aggies finish season strong with a win

The women’s soccer team closed out their season on Nov. 3 with a hard fought 1-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara. The win provided a quality finish to the tough, but rewarding year for the Aggies.

UC Davis posted a final record of 6-9-3 overall, including a 3-4-1 mark in conference play. The record is misleading, however, as the Aggies were competitive in every single game. They lost five games by just one point. It is a very positive sign in what was an extremely taxing year for the Aggies.

“It’s bittersweet,” said head coach Maryclare Robinson. “The amount of opportunities we had, we walked away hungry, particularly against Iowa.”

UC Davis lost to Iowa, a Big 12 school, 1-0, in a hotly-contested match that saw the Aggies just unable to net a goal. This was unfortunately a foreshadowing of things to come as the Aggies would wind up close in so many games, but ultimately fall just short.

There are far more positives than negatives to draw from this season though. The Aggies played an extremely difficult schedule this year and responded well, highlighted by a 1-1-1 record against Pac-12 teams.

“The schedule was definitely a highlight. It definitely sets this year apart,” coach Robinson said. “Texas Tech is a top-25 team, and we managed the pressure well. We were dangerous against everyone.”

The Aggies were physically drained after being on the road for nearly all of September, playing in San Francisco, Utah, as well as in New Mexico.

“It was hard, not a cakewalk,” coach Robinson said. “But that’s why we’re in Division 1, to get an awesome opportunity to play such good teams so consistently. We competed and played good soccer.”

The team’s schedule was certainly something to be proud of. So, too, was the team’s reaction to a hard first few weeks of the season.

“How we responded was definitely a highlight,” coach Robinson said. “We had the opportunity to get into the conference tournament all the way to the end. We did much better, particularly in conference [games].”

The Aggies made some significant changes midway through the year, which is not easy to effectively do, including a formation switch from 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2. This put more emphasis on controlling the middle of the field. A change in work rate and mentality within the team also helped to galvanize an exciting end to the season.

“We created much better opportunities,” coach Robinson said. “We’re there. We’re knocking on the door.”

The last game of the year was perhaps the most memorable moment of the season. The Aggies earned their 1-0 victory over UCSB to ensure that the senior class remained unbeaten against the Gauchos.

This pressure-filled win kept the team in the conference tournament hunt. They were unfortunately eliminated from playoff contention later on in the day after other results did not fall the Aggies’ way.

The win also offered a brilliant way to send out the departing players on senior day and secured coach Robinson’s 200th win as UC Davis head coach.

“The win felt deserved,” coach Robinson said. “Our mentality was hard and the soccer was good. Number 200 is nice, but winning that pressure game was more. Everyone was on board.”

Five players were also awarded conference honors including seniors Ashley Edwards and Mary Beth Mazurek, who won first team honors. Junior Lexi Popoff, who came on strong in the second half and was awarded second-team honors. Sophomore Sienna Drizin won an honorable mention and Nicole Bouvia made the all-freshman team. These awards were a fitting end to the year, with a promise of future success to come.

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