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Saturday, April 20, 2024

UC Davis falls short in Big West semifinals

The first round of the Big West Conference men’s soccer tournament began Nov. 12 for the Aggies. After defeating Cal Poly and Sac State in their last two games of regular season play, UC Davis clinched home field advantage and took on UC Riverside in a heated first round matchup of the Big West tournament.

The Aggies came out firing, scoring two of their three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Senior forward Kevin Schulte found the back of the net first thanks to a clean pass to the left post by junior forward Matt Sheldon. The goal gave Schulte his first of the season and his eighth goal in his four years with UC Davis.

The Highlanders answered back quickly with a goal to tie the game 1-1, just six minutes after Schultes. However, young standout freshman forward Dashiell MacNamara added a third goal to his season record with four minutes left in the first half, tipping the game to 2-1 in the Aggies’ favor. This was the second game-winner of the season for the Big West All-Freshman Team honoree.

With an insurance goal from senior forward Nick Grigoriev in the first few minutes of the second half, the Aggies ultimately took the match 3-1, clinching the victory in the first round of 2013 playoffs over UC Riverside.

“Overall, I thought my team played really well, and I think we’re peaking at the absolute right time of the season,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer after the Nov. 12 afternoon match.

With their win against the Highlanders the Aggies had to maintain their momentum as they traveled to Irvine for their semifinal matchup against the Anteaters on Nov. 15.  Both teams were hungry for a victory, as a win would advance one team onto the Big West Tournament Championship game. The winner would be facing Cal State Northridge, who took down UCSB in the other Big West semifinal game.

Unfortunately for UC Davis, the Anteaters came out with the 2-0 victory and were given the opportunity to play in the finals. UC Irvine was firing out of the gate, scoring its first goal after only 12 minutes of play.

The Aggies struggled to get shots off, as evidenced by their low total of five shots attempted. Besides that, UC Davis was also unable to find the back of the net and was held scoreless by the stingy Anteater defense.

An insurance goal from UC Irvine sealed the deal with just over five minutes of play left in regulation, as the end of the game ultimately marked the end of the road for the 2013 UC Davis men’s soccer team.

One cannot deny that it was an up and down season for the athletes, but some highlights stood out for several of the players.

“I thought our highlight of the season was our last few games of the year,” said junior forward Matt Wiesenfarth. “We knew that we needed two wins to secure the second seed in the north and we went out and executed perfectly.”

Though the playoffs did not go as planned, there is still hope for success. UC Davis has plenty of room to grow next season.

“We have nine months to create a national championship-caliber team and we have the personnel to make it happen,” Wiesenfarth said.



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