Season kicks-off with tourney at Ohio State

Junior midfielder Ryan Gross led the Aggies with three shots in their exhibition against Chico State last weekend.
 
Junior midfielder Ryan Gross led the Aggies with three shots in their exhibition against Chico State last weekend.
 
Aug. 27, 2014

THIS WEEK...
UC Davis at the Ninth-Annual Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic
Aug. 29 & 31, 2014
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium
Columbus, Ohio

GAME 1: UC Davis at Ohio State
Aug. 29, 2014 | 4:30 p.m. PT
Game Coverage: Gametracker | Live Video ($)

GAME 2: UC Davis vs. Canisius College
Aug. 31, 2014 | 9 a.m. PT
Game Coverage: Gametracker

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KICK OFF: The UC Davis men's soccer team finally lifts the lid on its 2014 season, heading east to Columbus, Ohio, as one of four teams competing at the ninth-annual Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic hosted by Ohio State this weekend. The Aggies and Buckeyes meet in the tournament opener on Friday (Aug. 29) at 4:30 p.m. PT, before UC Davis takes on Canisius College on Sunday (Aug. 31) at 9 a.m. PT to close out play. Butler is the fourth team in the event, which takes place at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on campus.

CAN'T MAKE IT TO COLUMBUS?: Live paid video via the Big Ten Network (BTN.com) will be available for all games involving Ohio State this weekend while Gametracker live stats will be provided for the two other neutral site contests. To access the links, please visit the men's soccer schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com or the tournament web page at http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/m-soccer/spec-rel/wolstein-classic-2014.html.

IN THE POLLS: UC Davis is unranked to begin the season, but is scheduled to face three ranked teams -- all Big West members -- according to the preseason NSCAA polls in #16 UC Irvine, #18 UC Santa Barbara, and #24 Cal State Northridge, with another (No. 22 Loyola Marymount) ranked in the preseason Top Drawer Soccer poll.

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in UC Davis Athletics by following us on Facebook (facebook.com/ucdavisaggies) and Twitter (@UCDavisAggies). Live in-game updates are also available on Twitter by following us @UCDavisInGame.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties, new-look live stats for all UC Davis home games, as well as selected road contests, are available on your computer and mobile device courtesy the StatBroadcast platform. Visit the men's soccer schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com or the StatBroadcast landing page at ucdavislivestats.com to access the links when the games begin.

"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!": To begin the season, seniors Ramon Martin Del Campo and Brian Ford will serve as team captains.

STRAIGHT FROM THE COACH'S MOUTH: Get a quick look at the Aggies' 2014 season as the Athletics Communications staff sat down with Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer to discuss the upcoming campaign. View the video, shot in stunning iPhone quality, on the UC Davis Athletics YouTube page at http://youtu.be/WocGIS7S70Y.

OHIO STATE BRIEFLY: The Buckeyes open their season with Friday's match against UC Davis after splitting a pair of exhibitions against West Virginia (W, 2-1) and #12 Marquette (L, 3-2)... Ohio State has been led by a pair of freshman goal-scorers in the exhibitions, as Hunter Robertson and Marcus McCrary combined to tally three of the Buckeyes' four scores... The Buckeyes were 5-8-5 overall last season and 1-3-2 in Big Ten play, returning 14 letter winners and nine starters off of last year's team... Ohio State brings back five of its top six scorers, and six of its nine goal-scorers from 2013, led by sophomore forward Danny Jensen, who finished with three goals and three assists on 24 shots a season ago.

CANISIUS COLLEGE BRIEFLY: The Golden Griffins return 14 letter winners and seven starters off of last season's squad that finished 7-9-2 overall and 3-6-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference... Having lost their top two scorers who combined for nine goals and three assists during the 2013 campaign, Jamaican national Asani Samuels is the leading returning scorer, finding the back of the net three times and assisting on two others... Sophomore John Hollinger, who posted a 2.85 goals against average and nine saves in four apperances (three starts) in net last season, is one of two returners along with Syracuse transfer Andrew Coughlin and freshman Bryce Tramuta vying for the starting goalkeeper job.

SERIES NOTES: This weekend marks the first-ever meetings between the Aggies, Buckeyes, and Golden Griffins in men's soccer.

FOR OPENERS: Dating back to the 1990 season, the Aggies are 10-12-2 in season openers and just 2-5 since its first Division I campaign in 2007. They are looking to rebound from a 1-0 defeat at Portland last year as UC Davis' last win in a season opener came in 2012 in a 1-0 victory over UNLV at home. Friday's game at Ohio State marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that the Aggies have opened their schedule on the road with the match against the Rebels being the lone exception during that run.

NO MORE JITTERS: In all, 19 Aggies saw time in their exhibition clash with Chico State -- including five newcomers to the UC Davis roster. Heralded freshman Evan Barrett earned a start against the Wildcats while Eddie Manella and Connor Willis-Hong -- who each redshirted the 2013 campaign -- shook off the Division I rust as members of the starting 11. Off the bench, freshmen forwards Noah Wilson and Kyle Higgins saw time while defenders Miguel Acevedo and Greg Salazar played more than a half against the Wildcats.

WELCOME BACK: Albeit an exhibition, it could be a cause for celebration for Aggies' junior goalkeeper Kris Schultz, who started between the pipes in Sunday's exhibition with Chico State, finishing with a save over 90 minutes. It was the first appearance for Schultz since Sept. 16, 2012, against Southern Methodist after missing all of last year due to injury.

CORNERED: A season after finishing a close second in the Big West Conference with 121 corner kicks (UC Irvine was tops with 123), the Aggies look like they are going to pick up right where they left off in 2014, finishing with 11 corners against Chico State in Sunday's exhibition. UC Davis had four games with 10-or-more corners last season, including a season-high 12 against CSUN on Oct. 6 at home.

AGGIES PICKED SECOND IN THE BIG WEST NORTH, FOURTH OVERALL: UC Davis was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference's North Division, and fourth overall, according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 21). The Aggies earned 20 points to finish behind only unanimous selection UC Santa Barbara, which received all eight first-place votes and 32 points overall to top the table. Cal Poly, with 19 points, and Sacramento State, with nine points, round out the North. In the South, CSUN topped the division with six first-place votes and 30 points overall, followed closely by UC Irvine, which earned a pair of first-place nods and 24 points. UC Riverside (14 points) and Cal State Fullerton (12) were picked third and fourth, respectively.

MARTIN DEL CAMP-"ING" WITH THE U.S.: In one of the better "What Did You Do Last Summer" stories for the Aggies, senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo had the "arduous" task of traveling to the Bahamas for a five-day camp with the U.S. U-23 Men's National Team and a friendly against the Bahamas National Team. One of 19 players (and seven defenders) originally called up, Martin del Campo entered the match against the Bahamas one minute into the second half as part of an eventual 5-1 win for the Americans. He was discovered playing with his San Jose Earthquakes' U-23 Premier Development League squad, helping lead them to a 7-4-3 record and a third-place finish in the Western Conference in their inaugural season. He was an All-Premier Development League (best 11 players in the entire league) and All-Western Conference First Team selection and was one of three finalists for the league's Young (U-21) Player of the Year Award.

DAVIS DUO EARNS BIG WEST PRESEASON HONORS: Along with Thursday's preseason prognostications, the league's eight head coaches also bestowed preseason all-conference honors on 11 of the Big West's best, including the Aggies' Ramon Martin Del Campo and Matt Wiesenfarth.

MORE FOR THE MANTEL: UC Davis seniors Matt Sheldon, Brian Ford, and Ramon Martin Del Campo were named to the first team, while senior Matt Wiesenfarth added second-team laurels on Aug. 13, as College Sports Madness announced its preseason All-Big West Conference selections. The Aggies' three first-team selections match Cal State Northridge for the most in the league, while the four overall honorees stand behind only the Matadors and UC Santa Barbara, which finished with five selections apiece. For a complete list of the honorees, visit http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/9616.

TOP SHELF TALENT ACCORDING TO TOP DRAWER: Building upon what has already been an impressive preseason, senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo was named to Top Drawer Soccer's preseason list of the top 100 collegiate players in the United States. In a ranking that will be updated weekly, Martin Del Campo was one of five Big West players selected to the list, joining Cal State Northridge duo Sagi Lev-Ari and Edwin Rivas, UC Irvine's Mario Ortiz, and UC Santa Barbara's Ismaila Jome. Both Jome, a sophomore midfielder, and Lev-Ari, a senior forward, are also included on the "watch list" for this year's MAC Hermann Trophy awarded to the nation's top player. Fans can take a look at the entire list via the Top Drawer Soccer website at http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/college-soccer-articles/college-soccer-preseason-top-100-players_aid33551.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE AGGIES: UC Davis returns its top five scorers and 12 letter winners (six starters) off of last season's squad that finished 9-9-3 overall and 4-4-2 in Big West Conference play, gaining the semifinals of the league tournament for the second-straight season. Five all-conference honorees are among the group, led by senior strikers Matt Sheldon and Matt Wiesenfarth (more on them later) and senior defenders Brian Ford and Ramon Martin Del Campo. Behind them, the loss of record-setting goalkeeper Omar Zeenni looms large, however, redshirt sophomore Armando Quezada is poised to take over the reins after posting a 1.13 goals against average in five appearances -- including a pair of starts against nationally-ranked UC Santa Barbara. Redshirt junior Kris Schultz (1 career start vs. SMU in 2012) and junior John Piasta will push Quezada in the quest for the starting job between the pipes.

BY THE NUMBERS: UC Davis returns all but three of its 20 goals scored (85%), 10 of its 18 assists (56%), and 163 of its 286 shots taken (57%), from last season's campaign. What does that all mean? We don't know, but numbers are fun.

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: Of the Aggies' 21 matches last season, 11 of those were decided by a single goal, including five of the team's nine defeats and four of those five by 1-0 results.

COMING "HOME": After two seasons as an assistant coach with the women's soccer program at Augsburg College in Minnesota, former UC Davis letter winner Chris Leer returns to his alma mater this season as an assistant under Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer. Leer played under Shaffer from 2006-09, helping the Aggies to a pair of NCAA Division I Tournament berths in 2007 (first round) and 2008 (second round) while earning All-Big West Conference honorable mention honors as a senior. He finished his UC Davis career with 13 goals and seven assists (33 points), tying for second on the team in goals (5) as a sophomore and finishing second in both goals (4) and points (12) as a senior while starting all 19 matches. The Danville, Calif., native graduated from UC Davis with a degree in communication and sociology in 2011, earning his master's degree in kinesiology/sports and exercise science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2013.

SAME FACE, NEW PLACE: Long-time assistant Jason Hotaling moves up one spot on the bench beginning with the 2014 campaign, promoted to the position of Assistant Head Coach under Shaffer with the departure of Eric Mild, who left to take over the men's soccer program at Pacific University in Oregon. Now entering his 10th season on the Aggies' sideline, Hotaling joined the UC Davis staff in 2005, reuniting with his former coach in Shaffer, whom he played for at Santa Rosa JC from 1991-92. He continues to manage the Aggies' recruiting efforts and training the team's goalkeepers.

THE WELCOME MATT'S: One of the best 1-2 scoring punches in the Big West Conference in 2013, the Aggies' senior striker duo of Matt Wiesenfarth and Matt Sheldon return for their final years in a UC Davis uniform after sharing the team lead with six goals and an assist apiece -- accounting for 60 percent of the team's 20 goals scored. The six goals were the most by an Aggie since Lance Patterson finished with the same number (and 13 points overall) in 2010.

UNDER THE LIGHTS: Area soccer fans will be treated to a pair of UC Davis matches under the lights in 2014 as Aggie Stadium -- home of the football and lacrosse programs -- will serve as home field advantage for the Aggies against Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 2) and Cal Poly (Nov. 5). It is the first time since the 2010 season that the men's soccer team will compete on the turf of Aggie Stadium, hosting an exhibition against Dominican and welcoming four league rivals (UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge, and UC Santa Barbara) for regular season clashes, finishing 3-2 in those matches.

THAT'S FRESH... MAN: Legendary college football coach Joe Paterno once said, "It's the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back." However, with 10 new faces on the roster for the 2014 season, names on the back might be a good idea to know who's who. The Aggies' 10 freshmen make up the largest incoming freshman class since UC Davis welcomed in 10 true freshmen in 2003.

OH NO, NOT OT: The Aggies finished 0-1-3 in extra time last season, ending an unbeaten run that saw UC Davis post a record of 3-0-7 in its previous 10 overtime matches entering the year dating back to the 2011 campaign. The Aggies' last victory in extra time came on Oct. 28, 2012, at UC Santa Barbara by the score of 2-1.

OUR HOUSE: UC Davis finished with a winning home record for the fourth consecutive season, posting a 5-4 mark at the Aggie Soccer Stadium in 2013. The pitch has, indeed, been the friendly confines for the home side as the Aggies are a combined 90-43-13 (.661) at home in 17 seasons under the direction of Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer and haven't suffered a losing campaign at home since 2009 (3-4).