Late game flurry secures hard-fought victory over conference rivals
Coming off its recent loss at UC Riverside, the UC Davis men’s soccer team found its home field to be a welcomed site when it faced off against UCSB on Oct. 11. The Aggies stood at 4-1-2 on Aggie Soccer Field, as opposed to 1-5-0 away from it. With Big West rival UCSB coming in having won six of its last seven games, the Aggies knew they would need to come in prepared. To head coach Dwayne Shaffer, the home field is important for a variety of different reasons.
“I think being acclimated to the home home field is really what makes it different,” Shaffer said. “It’s kind of tough, too. Santa Barbara has to get on a bus and drive up here.”
Once the game started, it proved to be a hard-fought match on both ends of the field, with neither side giving each other much room for error. Shaffer credited his defense with setting the tone for the game, pointing out the 11-5 shot advantage his team held over Santa Barbara, applauding his defenders, junior Roy Boateng and senior Chase Rhode, as well as the work of sophomore goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley for their work all year.
“I felt like our defense played outstanding,” Shaffer said. “I’m just excited for the group.”
On the other side of the field, senior midfielder Lizandro Torres scored his third goal of the season off of a well-placed assist by fellow senior midfielder Miguel Acevedo, a goal which the Gauchos were unable to recover from, going scoreless for the game. Senior defender Greg Salazar credited the goal as the key to the way the rest of the game went.
“It takes a lot of pressure off the defense,” Salazar said. “It makes everything a lot easier. In a way, everyone gets more confident. Everyone defends better, and we start attacking better.”
The Gauchos were never able to escape from the hole that the first goal dug. After nearly 60 minutes of game time without a goal, the Aggies put the game away, thanks to a pair of goals by senior forward Noah Miller (assisted by junior midfielder Brian Quintero), and Salazar, his first goal of the season. Salazar beamed as he thought about the goal.
“It was great,” Salazar said. “It took a while, I would say, but it was definitely a good feeling to get my first goal here at home, and then against Santa Barbara — it’s even better against the competition.”
With conference standings growing increasingly important, Shaffer knows that wins like this one are not something to take for granted.
“There’s not much difference between the top team and possibly the bottom team,” Shaffer said. “But with that win right there, we’re on top now.”
The 3-1-1 conference record leaves the Aggies tied with Santa Barbara, but they hold that top spot thanks to the head-to-head advantage showcased in Wednesday’s game.
It is up to the Aggies to continue their solid start to conference play and take some of the positivity from their home games to the road. After a short trip across the causeway on Oct. 14, where the Aggies defeated Sacramento State 2-0, the team went on to play Cal Poly on Wednesday, Oct. 18. A game recap can be found at the theaggie.org.
Written by: Bradley Geiser — firstname.lastname@example.org