Men’s soccer falls 4-2-1 in conference play
UC Davis men’s soccer suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in overtime to visiting Cal Poly on Wednesday evening. Down 2-0 in the 84th minute, the Aggies (7-7-2, 4-2-1) scored two goals in the span of 48 seconds to tie the game at 2-2, but the comeback effort was not enough as the Mustangs netted the game-winning goal less than two minutes into overtime.
“It shows a lot of character,” said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “They have a lot of heart and fight in them, but unfortunately it took until the 85th minute or so to show it. I think we did everything necessary to win that game, but it just didn’t go our way today.”
The Aggies had a big chance to finally get on the scoreboard when redshirt sophomore forward Adam Mickelson lined up for a free kick outside the box on the left side with under six minutes remaining in the contest. Mickelson promptly fired an absolute strike to the top-right corner of the net to cut the UC Davis deficit to one goal.
“We were talking about it and I just really wanted to hit it,” Mickelson said. “I saw the keeper was leaning to the other side a little bit and I decided to take the shot towards his left and it went in.”
The Aggies went right back down the field and tied the game on a header to the bottom-right corner of the net by redshirt junior forward Matt Baringer, his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Mickelson and senior midfielder Lizandro Torres were credited with assists on the play, as Mickelson passed a through ball into the edge of the box to Torres, who chipped the ball to Baringer in front of the net.
After staving off the relentless Cal Poly attack in the final two minutes of regulation, the Aggies were unable to capitalize on a couple scoring chances early in the overtime period. Less than a minute later, Cal Poly junior forward Sean Goode handled a deflection near the back of the box and launched a perfect strike into the the top-left corner of the goal to win the game for the Mustangs.
“Ultimately, we let them hang around,” Shaffer said. “We had a big opportunity here at home today and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
The first half of the match was largely dominated by UC Davis, as the home team was relentless in its offensive attack, racking up a total of eight shots and dominating possession.
“In the first half I thought we played really well,” Shaffer said. “I thought it was kind of one-way traffic and once again we were just unfortunate to not score the first goal. We did everything right and we did everything well, and we just didn’t score.”
The Aggies were persistent in applying pressure on both sides of the ball, but ultimately were unable to finish in front of the net on numerous scoring opportunities.
“I think we’re gonna get a lot of chances like that, but I think we’re eventually going to put some in the net,” Mickelson said. “It’s just unfortunate that it didn’t go our way tonight.”
Cal Poly only managed to muster two shots in the opening 45 minutes, including just one shot on goal.
After 28 consecutive minutes of back and forth action to start the second half, the Mustangs finally broke through when senior forward Kaba Alkebulan scored on a header just inside the right post from a free kick on the right side.
Cal Poly added another goal seven minutes later when freshman forward Angel De Leon dribbled into the box and shot a perfect ball into the right corner.
Despite losing a tough match, UC Davis remains atop the Big West Conference standings, with a total of 13 points. The Aggies still have three matches remaining on the schedule, and will look to lock up the top seed in the Big West tournament, which begins in early November. UC Davis travels to face UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly in the next week, before returning home for the regular season finale against Sacramento State on Oct. 29.
Written by: Brendan Ogburn — firstname.lastname@example.org