The UC Davis men’s soccer team isn’t finished yet. After shutting out Sacramento State in a highly-fueled rematch on Oct. 9, the Aggies now enter the playoffs with an 8-8-3 overall record. Finishing the regular season with a win has given the team a much needed confidence boost.
This year has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Aggies. They entered the season with high hopes after finishing just shy of winning the championships in the 2012 season. They lost to Cal State Northridge in heartbreaking fashion at the 2012 Big West Tournament championship game by the score of 1-0.
Although the Aggies fell just short of winning it all last season, they had strong expectations for the start of their 2013 season. With six returning seniors ready to win a conference title, UC Davis expected a fast start to the season.
But the team had a bumpy first few games, starting the season off at 0-2-1. The Aggies then snapped back, clinching their first win against Seattle University at the beginning of September.
The Aggies then fell into a pattern of inconsistency both home and away. However, their victory over top-ranked New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. was one of the biggest victories of the season.
“One of the best moments of the season was definitely beating New Mexico at New Mexico,” senior forward Alex Aguiar said. “That was a big game for us on the road.”
Taking down New Mexico at the end of September lit a fire under the team. They went on to defeat UC Irvine at home in a huge 2-0 victory.
However, the team then continued their trend of inconsistent play, with losses to Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton which was followed by a win on the road against UC Riverside.
Then, in one of the most exciting matches of the season, UC Davis took on a tough UC Santa Barbara team, which was undefeated in the league at that time. In a game that can only be described as a battle, the two teams forced the match into double overtime, where the Gauchos ended up on top, scoring the winning goal with less than a minute left in overtime.
Although the Aggies’ loss to UCSB was heartbreaking there were some highlights from the matchup, including Aguiar finally finding the back of the net, and racking up his first goal of the season.
“For me individually, finally getting the goal to put us up 2-1 against Santa Barbara … that was really cool to finally get that goal,” Aguiar said.
In the first of two Causeway Classics on Oct. 26, the Aggies were shockingly upset by Sacramento State in a 1-0 loss at home. But in the last game of the regular season, the men redeemed themselves, defeating the Hornets in Sacramento, Calif. on Nov. 9. The Aggies were coming into that match with a win streak as they had defeated Cal Poly at home on Nov. 6.
With those two wins to end the season, the team clinched a berth into the playoffs as the second seed. They also earned home field advantage in the first round of the tournament.
The Aggies head into their first round matchup with confidence, but they have much bigger goals in mind. UC Davis has big ambitions for the Big West playoffs and possibly even beyond.
“[We want to] win the conference tournament,” junior defender Ramon Del Campo said.
However, to win it all the team must first make it through the quarterfinals. They take on UC Riverside at home Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.