Aggies squash Sac State in overtime, improve to 7-1 season record

BRIAN LANDRY / AGGIE

Men’s Soccer defeats Sacramento State Hornets 2-1 in golden goal overtime

Sept. 29 was the last game of the non-conference play for UC Davis men’s soccer, and the team defeated the Sacramento State Hornets 2-1. The Hornets were sporting a 2-5 overall record compared to the Aggies 6-1 record on the new season. UC Davis also began the game ranked as the No. 17 team in the nation according to the United Coaches Poll and No. 25 by College Soccer News.

The game began with the Hornet’s possession, but after the first few minutes, the ball belonged to UC Davis. After having a week to recover from a busy first nine season games, six on the road, the rested Aggies were able to simplify and just play soccer how it was meant to be played: fast and on the ground. Whenever the Aggies had possession, it seemed as if the Hornet’s could not catch up UC Davis’ constantly moving ball. However, the ball continued to move for the entire half and neither team could put it in the back of the net, bringing the score to 0-0 after the first. In the half, the Aggies outshot the Hornet’s five to four, and head coach Dwayne Shaffer felt that the last week of rest helped the team move the ball well.

“I thought having a week off definitely got their mind and their body and spirit refreshed and ready to go,” Shaffer said.

In the start of the second half, the Aggies’ game looked to be in trouble early in the 48th minute when the Hornet’s midfielder ripped an open shot from the top of the 18-yard box that just missed the post wide. Trouble continued for UC Davis in the 54th minute when the Hornet’s surpassed UC Davis junior goalkeeper, Wallis Lapsley, and hit the top corner post. After the ball bounced back, Sac State drove a bullet into the open net saved by a diving Lapsley from post to post to keep the score even. In the 58th minute, however, a through ball through the center of the field from the Hornets proved too much for the Aggies to stop, drilling into the bottom corner of the net to give Sac State the 1-0 lead. But UC Davis did not let the deficit damage its confidence, and in the 70th minute, senior defender Justin Wright made his way through the Hornet’s back line and slid one in the bottom corner of the net to tie the game 1-1 to the roar of the crowd.

“I think it is very easy to fall apart when you go down, especially with 30 minutes left,” Wright said on coming back from the deficit. “I think we had each other’s backs and just pushed forward as a team, which helped us a lot so I think being there for each other and having a positive mentally was good for us.”

The remainder of the game was nothing but back-and-forth aggression between teams as both tried to put a final seal on the game and get the win. Neither team was able to put anything together down the stretch, sending the game to two 10-minute golden goal overtime halves.

Sac State began the first half of overtime with blazing speed, earning two early shots in the first three minutes, the second just saved by Lapsley at the last moment. With two minutes left in the first overtime period, a throw in from the Aggies made its way to Wright sprinting down the right side of the field, placing the ball in the net, giving him his second goal of the game, and UC Davis the 2-1 win.

“ [I feel] absolutely ecstatic,” Wright said of the win. “I have never scored two goals in a college game before so that was incredible, especially in front of a home crowd. I couldn’t have done it without the teammates and the coaches so I am very grateful to be in that position and help lead the team to a victory.”

The Aggies finished the game with 11 shots compared to the Hornet’s 18, and Lapsley finished with four saves on the day.

UC Davis is now 7-1-2 entering conference play on Oct. 3, opening against the Cal Poly Mustangs at home. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.

“I told my team last year I knew we were the best team,” Shaffer said. “It took us a little bit to kind of get our mojo going and once we did I knew we were the best team last year. This year I got a great team that can be the best team in the Big West when we are all healthy and playing well.”

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org