Nov. 9, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Dan Reese scored off a Lance Patterson free kick with 10:27 left in the game to get the Aggies to within a goal, but the UC Davis men's soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday in the semifinal game of the Big West Tournament.
UC Davis was the third-place team in the Big West Conference with a 7-8-4 overall record and a 5-4-2 league mark. The third-place finish is the highest for UC Davis since the 2008 season.
"Our game plan was actually working perfectly in the first half and just, unfortunately, we gave up a foul that led to a goal and then we were chasing the game," said head coach Dwayne Shaffer. "In the second half we definitely made the adjustment to disrupt their rhythm. I thought my team fought hard, I thought we played hard."
Midway through the first half, an unfortunate UC Davis foul in the box led to a penalty kick for UC Santa Barbara. Luis Silva converted the kick and gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead.
The Aggies tried to equalize the score before halftime. With 2:15 left in the first half, Dan Reese sent a pass from the goal line back and into the six-yard box for a streaking Matt Sheldon, but Sheldon's shot was picked up by Gaucho goalkeeper Andre Grandt.
Possession throughout much of the second half remained even until the 60th minute when Peter Schmetz passed to Sam Garza inside the penalty box. Garza slipped a pass over to David Opoku who was making a run on Garza's left and Opoku drove the shot into the lower right corner to give UC Santa Barbara a 2-0 lead.
UC Davis launched a quick counterattack after the ensuing kickoff. Alex Henry accepted a long cross from Eddie Manella and took a low, hard shot across the goal, but it went just wide and out of play.
Reese got the Aggies on the board with just over ten minutes to play. UC Davis was awarded a free kick from 25 yards out and sent a cross into the box for Reese who ran onto the ball and sent the header into the back of the net.
Patterson attempted to tie the game himself three minutes later when he took a direct free kick from about 20 yards out, but the shot went just over the crossbar and out of play.
UC Davis continued to create chances on offense late in the game after Nick Grigoriev sent a low hard shot at goal with 3:48 left. UC Santa Barbara goalkeeper deflected the ball away towards Sheldon, but the freshman couldn't collect the ricochet and it was cleared away by a Gaucho defender.
Mustafa Chopan's header was just off with 2:18 left in the game, and the Gauchos would hold on for the 2-1 win.
"We are an extremely young team and I think this is a great group of players," said Shaffer. "I'm proud of Lance Patterson, Rene Cuellar and Matt Provencher - three seniors who gave a lot to the program. The future looks bright. It's a great group of guys and if we stick together and keep training and get better, I think the future will be really great for us."
Henry finished with three shots for UC Davis while Sheldon and Reese each posted two attempts. Silva led the Gauchos with four shots.
Zeenni made four saves as did Grandt for the Gauchos.