Aggies clinch Big West tourney berth with shutout

Junior Noah Wilson's goal in the ninth minute was the only score of the match as the Aggies beat the Gauchos to clinch a Big West Tournament berth on Sunday. (Photo by Sam Mish/UC Davis Athletics)
Oct. 30, 2016

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- UC Davis junior Noah Wilson scored the lone goal of the match in the ninth minute and senior goalkeeper Armando Quezada made four stops in net to collect his sixth clean sheet of the season, helping lift the Aggies to a 1-0 victory over host UC Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium.

The win clinched a Big West Conference Tournament berth for UC Davis for the sixth consecutive season, improving them to 8-9-2 overall and 4-6 in league play. The No. 3 seed out of the North Division, the Aggies will take on two-time defending conference tournament champion Cal State Fullerton in the first round on Saturday (Nov. 5) at Titan Stadium at 7 p.m.

UC Davis defeated the Titans, 3-0, earlier this year at the Aggie Soccer Field on Oct. 8, and the two programs will meet in the conference tournament for a third time after the Aggies posted a 2-0 win in 2012, and Fullerton a 2-1 win in 2014 -- both matches played in Davis, Calif.

UC Santa Barbara suffered its first Big West loss of the season in falling to 10-6-3 overall and 6-1-3 in league play, but still earned the top seed out of the North Division and earns a first-round bye into the semifinals against the winner of the Aggies-Titans tilt on Nov. 9 in Santa Barbara. Sunday marked the first win for UC Davis in Santa Barbara since Oct. 13, 2012, going 0-3-1 in its previous four trips, and posted a shutout of the Gauchos for the first time since a 1-0 double-overtime victory at home on Oct. 18, 2014.

Needing a victory after Cal Poly had posted a 2-1 win over Sacramento State on Saturday to move two points ahead of the Aggies in the standings for the final berth out of the North Division, UC Davis wasted little time in staking itself to an early lead as Wilson found the back of the net for his team- and career-high sixth goal of the year. Junior Onah Power got the play started with a run down the right side of the box before sending a ball to the front of the goal where Wilson put a head on it and past goalkeeper Brandon Berke for the 1-0 advantage.

Wilson's six goals this season tie him for fourth on the school's Division I Era single-season list, while the 15 points rank fifth.

The Aggies' defense then needed to stand tall for the next 81 minutes, and it was up to the task. Quezada denied Ahinga Selemani in the 13th and 23rd minutes, while turning away attempts by Nick DePuy -- who had the overtime game-winner against UC Davis in the first meeting between the two -- in the second minute of the second half and Dalton Pando seven minutes later to keep the match scoreless. Senior Dashiell MacNamara also blocked a shot by Selemani in the closing moments and a cross to a cutting DePuy just missed the head of the Gauchos' powerful forward as time ticked away.

Following the score by Wilson, UC Davis continued to pressure the UCSB defense as Berke gathered a header in the 26th minute by sophomore Kristian Heptner, and the defense was able to clear a long attempt by junior Greg Salazar after the ball got behind the Gaucho keeper as the first half came to an end. Berke, who finished the day with seven saves, was also busy in the second half, turning away Steven Guzman on an open look in the 59th minute with a diving stop, and came up with a stop on Wilson's penalty kick attempt in the 61st minute following a foul in the box.

The Aggies out-shot the Gauchos, 12-9, for the match, including an 8-4 advantage in shots on frame, while UCSB took nine of the 10 corner kicks in the match. Wilson led UC Davis with four shots on the day -- three of those on goal -- sharing match-high honors with the Gauchos' Selemani, who put half his attempts on frame.

Quezada's six shutouts in 2016 rank tied with Oma Zeenni's 2012 total for second on the school's Division I single-season list, and solidified his hold on second place on the school's all-time career list with 13.

Overall, the Aggies are 3-6 in Big West Tournament matches, advancing to the semifinals in four of the last five seasons. UC Davis is 2-1 in first-round matches, defeating UC Riverside, 3-1, in 2013, while posting a 2-1 overtime win at CSUN in 2015.

UC Davis (8-9-2, 4-6-0) vs. UC Santa Barbara (10-6-3, 6-1-3)
Date: Oct 30, 2016  Attendance: 1806
Weather: rainy and overcast

Goals by period       1  2  Tot
UC Davis............  1  0 -  1
UC Santa Barbara....  0  0 -  0

1.   8:12 UCD Wilson, Noah (6) (Power, Onah) - ball played across the 18, 10 headed it home.

Shots: UC Davis 12, UC Santa Barbara 9
Saves: UC Davis 4 (Quezada, Armando 4), UC Santa Barbara 7 (Berke, Brandon 7)