Oct. 4, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Dashiell MacNamara scored his first goal as an Aggie 28 minutes into Friday's match against No. 25 UC Irvine, teammate Matt Wiesenfarth scored his second goal in as many games with three minutes remaining to help the near-capacity crowd at Aggie Soccer Field celebrate a 2-0 victory over the Anteaters in this season's Big West opener for each team.
The victory is UC Davis' second straight over a top-25 foe; on Sept. 27, the Aggies left Albuquerque, N.M. with a 2-1 win over then-No. 25 New Mexico.
"This is huge for our team and our program right now," said head coach Dwayne Shaffer following the match. "We've got an outstanding defense, these guys are doing a wonderful job preventing other teams from scoring."
UC Davis will enter Sunday's home match against No. 6 Cal State Northridge, its third matchup against a nationally ranked team in as many games, with a 5-4-1 overall record and 1-0-0 conference mark. UC Irvine departs Davis with records of 5-3-2 and 0-1-0 respectively.
By earning his fourth clean slate of the season, Aggie goalkeeper Omar Zeenni now sits alongside Nic Platter (2000-03) with a program-high 17 shutouts. By finishing with four saves against the Anteaters, Zeenni also enters Sunday's rematch of last season's Big West Men's Soccer Tournament championship match with 192 saves, three shy of tying Platter's record.
The Aggies tested UC Irvine goalkeeper Michael Breslin from the opening whistle, forcing him to record his first save just 2:41 seconds into the match on a hard-hit shot from Eric Budniewski.
It was the very next UC Davis shot, taken by MacNamara in the 28th minute, which helped his team earn a lead they never relinquished.
Shortly before a UC Davis throw in taken just a handful of feet away from its bench, Shaffer inserted MacNamara into the game on the dead ball situation. Shaffer's decision reaped immediate dividends when MacNamara scored his first career goal 23 seconds later.
"I knew Ryan Gross can make that long throw-in, he's been making that pass all season and can get (the ball) in the penalty area. Matt Sheldon cut in front of me and went in for the header, I just drifted behind him and flicked it in," said MacNamara.
Gross earned his first assist of the year when his throw-in passed a handful of players from both teams that were camped inside the 18-yard box in front of the Anteaters' goal. Touched by no one as it rolled through the box, MacNamara, who set himself in the perfect position near the far post, one-timed Gross' lengthy pass for the lead.
That 1-0 Aggie advantage held as action continued until the final moments of the game when Wiesenfarth singlehandedly beat UCI's backline on a counterattack, initially created by an Anteater turnover, to create a one-on-one scoring opportunity. Generated solely by the junior forward through his deft footwork in Irvine's penalty area, Wiesenfarth iced the game with a powerful shot that beat Breslin near post to double UC Davis' lead.
"What a great goal, I think he is the only one on our team who can score a goal like that," added Shaffer.
"I remember going back to my freshman year, the first goal I scored took place before conference started. This year, the first goal I scored also took place in a similar manner. I am trying to get back to the way I played my freshman year; I think this team is the best we've seen in a while and we're going to accomplish big things," said Wiesenfarth.
The junior forward capped his freshman season with Big West Conference Freshman of the Year and all-Big West second team accolades.
Friday's match is a continuation of a memorable week for Wiesenfarth; exactly one week ago, against New Mexico, he was responsible for the Aggies' game-winning shot to secure his team's second victory against a ranked opponent in the last seven road games.
UC Davis defeated UC Santa Barbara, last October, at Harder Stadium against a Gaucho roster that was ranked No. 25 at the time.
Including Friday's result, the Aggies have captured wins in their last three games against ranked opposition.
Sunday will provide UC Davis with another opportunity to add another team to that list when No. 6 Cal State Northridge visits Aggie Soccer Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m., links for live stats and an internet radio broadcast provided by KDVS are available at ucdavisaggies.com.
INTERVIEWS WITH SHAFFER, MacNAMARA & WIESENFARTH: