Aug 30, 2013
PORTLAND - UC Davis outshot the Portland Pilots 14-13 in the first of two matches scheduled throughout the weekend at the University of Portland Tournament, but it was an attempt by Pilots midfielder Thomas Iwasaki in the 35th minute that was the difference Friday night as the Aggies fell 1-0 in their season opener at Merlo Field.
UC Davis will enter Sunday's 1:30 p.m. match at Oregon State with a 0-1 record while Portland continues tournament action with a 1-0 mark.
"I thought the team played smart soccer, pressured Portland and created numerous offensive opportunities," said UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer.
In an intense match that featured eight cautions, six of which were earned by the Pilots, it was UC Davis that was able to generate the first dangerous scoring opportunity of the night.
Responsible for four of the first six shots recorded by either team, it was a header from sophomore midfielder Ryan Gross that deflected off the crossbar and prevented the Aggies from taking an early one goal lead by mere inches.
When asked following the match if that shot would have found the back of the net had it not bounced off the bar, Shaffer responded, "most definitely."
Midfielder Alex Aguiar led all Aggies with five total shots, two of which forced Portland goalkeeper Justin Baarts to make a save to keep UC Davis off the scoreboard.
Even though the Aggies were the aggressor throughout the opening 30 minutes, it was a one-timer from the foot of Iwasaki from six yards out, off a sharp cross at the 35-minute mark, that enabled host Portland to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Were it not for the efforts of Omar Zeenni, UC Davis' deficit could have doubled in the early moments of the second half.
Of the first four shots recorded by the Pilots after halftime, the senior goalkeeper turned away two of those opportunities to keep his team just one strike away from recording the equalizer.
Zeenni finished his evening with four saves.
After the early barrage of shots from the Pilots, UC Davis earned the first of its six second-half corners after a shot from junior forward Matt Wiesenfarth was redirected by Baarts at the last moment.
Compared to a Portland squad that generated only one corner kick opportunity each half, the Aggies took nine throughout the entire match.
Zeenni's counterpart recorded two of his five saves when headers from Aguiar and sophomore midfielder Ryan Gross barely missed their intended target with less than two minutes left in the match.
Said Shaffer, "We started fast at the beginning of the game and hit the crossbar; throughout the last 15 minutes we kept pounding it on goal, unfortunately, those shots did not fall for us.
"I feel like we did everything that we needed to do (to win the match), I am happy with the way that we played."