Photo Credits: Midfielder for UC Davis Monet Kunz (5,right) battles Saint Mary's defender Hailey Prentice (4,left) for the ball at the September 27, 2019 women's soccer game against Saint Mary's College at Davis, CA. Photo by Quinn Spooner / Aggie.
UC Davis women’s soccer starts strong to open 2019 season
After a tough 2018-19 season, the UC Davis women’s soccer team enters the new year with high hopes and a new game plan. The Aggies open this new season with a new coach, Tracy Hamm, who is one of only two American women to hold the prestigious United European Football Association “A” coaching license.
In addition to a new coach, the team welcomes 15 new players, including transfers, freshmen and red shirts. With Hamm’s help and vision, this new-look Aggie squad finished off its non-league play for this season with a 5-5 overall record. The team is ranked number three among Big West Conference programs with 11 assists, and the Aggies’ 11 goals allowed is the third lowest total in the conference. The team ranks third in points in the Big West and tied for first in shots per game with just over 15.
Some of the standout players for this year include redshirt freshman midfielder Leslie Fregoso and sophomore forward Casey Palmer. These two offensive forces have tallied three goals each, which accounts for six of the 14 that UC Davis has scored this season so far. Additionally, Fregoso is the Aggies’ first Offensive Player of the Week selection since last September, when Emma Hasco ended a year-and-a-half-long drought.
At the back-end of their non-conference play, the Aggies faced Saint Mary’s College last Friday in a tightly contested match. The game was a fierce head-to-head battle with intense play both offensively and defensively for both squads, and ultimately ended in a 1-0 defeat for the Aggies.
“We are balanced both on the defense and attack, we have got some key players,” Hamm explained after the game “We have got to be able to adapt and change our system, and we need players to step up.”
The Aggies plan to build from the loss and take it to their future play by “not [making] mistakes,” according to Hamm. It was pretty even both directions.
“We need to make sure we play a full 90 minutes and not take plays off.”
At the beginning of the second half for UC Davis, goalkeeper Jessica Lima made five of the Aggies’ seven saves, which included a crucial stop of a Saint Mary’s penalty kick. Lima was the brick wall that kept the Aggies within one, but they were unable to find that all-important equalizer following a first-half Saint Mary’s goal.
What lies ahead this season should make Aggie fans excited. With new leadership and major additions to the roster, the team is looking forward to a competitive conference slate where every game should be a battle. Hamm believes that the team possesses a number of beneficial qualities that could fuel a successful run.
“I think I give [the team] a lot of freedom to play their styles and to their strengths. But I also think as individuals; we play with a lot of passion and energy,” Hamm said. “I think our effort is fantastic. It is just about having better cohesive effort, rather than individual effort. It is going to be a group effort.”
Hamm is proud of the team’s culture and chemistry, but now it is just about “connecting the dots on the soccer field.”
After a 3-2 loss to the University of San Francisco on Sunday, the Aggies now enter conference play and are looking to become a major force in the Big West.
“Our conference is really tough,” Hamm said. “I think every game is going to be a huge battle. All of our pre season records are fairly similar. I think it is going to be a battle every game. We have got to get some players back healthy, and we will give it a good run.”
Conference play begins Oct. 3 at Cal State Fullerton.
Written by: Frankie Veverka — firstname.lastname@example.org