For those interested in following sports games this fall, check out this guide for the season
In what was a whirlwind of a year, the majority of UC Davis’ athletic programs were forced to take a year off. For those in the Big West Conference, the cancellation of fall sports meant taking a year off and refocusing for the next. While student-athletes were given an extra year of eligibility, future plans, graduation and other things meant their college athletic careers were cut short. Nonetheless, with plans in place to get everything started once again this fall, here’s The Aggie’s quick guide to what to expect this quarter.
Men’s and Women’s Soccer
Two teams that had to take a year off, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams look to build their success this fall. On the men’s side, 2019 was one of the most successful years in the program’s history. With an overall record of 13 wins, five losses and two draws, the Aggies, led by longtime head coach Dwayne Shaffer, captured their first double in program history, winning both the Big West Conference Regular Season and Tournament titles. Winning the conference meant that UC Davis would host an NCAA Tournament game at Aggie Soccer Field in front of the Aggie faithful. A hard fought game against Louisville in the tournament ended their season, however, as UC Davis fell 0-1 to the Cardinals.
Bouncing back this fall, the Aggies will look to not lose the momentum they gained from 2019. Behind an experienced defensive backline, UC Davis has been able to hold on thus far in non-conference play, holding many good teams like #9 Washington, Gonzaga and San Diego State to a low number of goals. Although they have yet to go into the win column in 2021, they have held their own against very good competition. With a couple more games to go before they begin the always competitive Big West Conference on Sept. 29, the Aggie offense will look to get a jump and hope to get back to the NCAA Tournament. They will have the benefit of playing games against some conference favorites UC Santa Barbara (Oct. 2) and Cal State Northridge (Oct. 17) at home before they finish off their regular season in the Causeway Classic against Sacramento State in Davis on Oct. 30.
On the women’s team, 2019 was a bit of a roller coaster that ultimately led to much optimism as the season completed. Going 5-5 in non-conference play, the Aggies played some great games away from home against Pacific and Nevada to really impress. But, when conference play began, they went 2-6 failing to qualify for the conference tournament. It was frustrating at times due to the team being in practically every game yet losing four in conference play by only a goal. Still, the Aggies team showed growth and potential — something that will pay off greatly this upcoming season.
With only three upperclassmen in this years’ squad, head coach Tracy Hamm is out to show the growth her team has undergone since they were last seen. Starting off the season at 3-3, this young UC Davis squad has been high scoring thus far, making it a show every time they step on the field. Their first Big West Conference game will be Sept. 23 against Cal State Bakersfield, and their home opener will be the following week on Sept. 30 versus UC Santa Barbara. They will close with back to back home games on Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 against Hawaii and UC San Diego respectively as they hope to be one of the remaining teams in the conference by then.
After an impressive season in 2019, the UC Davis Women’s Volleyball team is back this year. Despite being affected by the cancellation of fall sports in 2020, they will finally get their chance to get back out on the court. After a 17-13 record in 2019, one which saw them close out the season winning 5 out of 6, the Aggies hope to finish off some of their close losses from that year and come back with a force in 2021. Their season began on Aug. 27 in Sacramento at the Hornet Invitational. Unable to secure a win in those two games, UC Davis then hosted the Aggie Invitational in Davis, CA with teams like Nevada, San Francisco and Santa Clara. The Aggies swept the competition, putting up three straight victories at home.
Big West Conference play begins rather quickly, as Sept. 21 the team will visit UC Riverside to begin. In October, they have a stretch of four straight home games in 10 days, where they hope to stack up the conference wins. Their season will then culminate with two home games against Long Beach State (Nov. 24) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 27).
UC Davis Field Hockey
The UC Davis Field Hockey team has greatly improved in recent years under head coach Britt Broady. Last season was played in spring 2021, an aberration to what the team was used to before. They struggled to get anything going and played only 11 games. But, after their most wins in program history back in 2019, this season has begun much differently than the previous. With a record of 3-2, the Aggies are rapidly approaching American East Conference play on Sept. 24. With games against Stanford, UC Berkeley, Maine and others, the schedule does not get easier for UC Davis. Nonetheless, their early season success has been one to believe that 2020 was simply an odd year for everyone. With home games against Northwestern and Brown on Sept. 17 and 19 respectively, the Aggies will only play two other home games in conference play against Cal and Stanford on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 at the Aggie Field Hockey facility.
UC Davis Cross Country
After a year gap due to COVID-19, the UC Davis Cross Country team is back this fall. In 2019, the Aggies had an impressive year, capped off by an 8th place finish for the women at the NCAA West Regionals and a 19th place finish for the men. Their season was scheduled to begin on Sept. 1 for the Nevada Twilight Classic, but that event was canceled. Instead, their season kicked off on Sept. 10 for the Stump Invitational in Davis. The women finished the event in first place with five of the top nine in the women’s 6K race while the men finished the event in third place. Their season will continue with events in Oregon, Florida and Lodi, CA before they return on Oct. 29 for the Big West Conference Championships in Davis.
Men’s Water Polo
One of the more dominant programs at UC Davis, the men’s water polo team has made a return to the water this fall. Following 2019, which saw them win the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) for the third time in four years and be ranked 9th in the nation, the Aggies are off to a fast start once again in 2021. With a record of 4-0 and wins against #17 Bucknell and #19 Navy, UC Davis is starting like they haven’t missed a step. On Sept. 17 and 18, they will host the Aggie Roundup at the Schaal Aquatics Center in Davis, CA, where they will play schools like USC, Cal and others. They will then go on a string of away games before they return to Davis on Oct. 22. Their final regular season game will be on Nov. 11 against Pacific before they host the WWPA Championships. A fast paced team, the Aggies will surely deliver some fireworks this fall.
A fairly young program at UC Davis, the equestrian team is entering just their fourth season of existence. Last season, they only participated in five total events due to COVID-19, but this year they hope to get back to a new normal. As their season kicks off on Sept. 30 against the University of South Carolina at the UC Davis Equestrian Center, they will host three events this fall before not returning to Davis until March. As the program begins to stabilize itself, the team hopes that this return to a regular season could help them continue to grow the young program into one of the best.
The return of fall sports will surely be something that the Aggie faithful will be looking forward to. After a year where attendance was nonexistent or limited, the return of fans will definitely serve as a jolt to the student-athletes and programs that missed it. Other teams, like Men’s and Women’s Basketball, will also begin late in the fall and will have a preview of their own. Nonetheless, UC Davis Athletics is something that students and alumni alike have been itching to get back to.
Written by: Omar Navarro — email@example.com