Sept. 30, 2013
IRVINE, Calif. - An outstanding performance by senior goalkeeper Omar Zeenni, in one of the most difficult soccer environments in the nation, helped UC Davis defeat nationally ranked New Mexico, 2-1, and earn Big West Men's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the conference office Monday.
Competing against a team that entered last Friday's match ranked No. 25 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire national poll, and No. 20 by Soccer America, Zeenni stopped a season-high seven Lobo shot attempts to help the Aggies join an exclusive list of men's soccer teams that left Albuquerque with a victory.
In the 113 games hosted by New Mexico since its soccer complex opened in 2002, UC Davis handed the Lobos their 17th home loss.
With his team leading 1-0, Zeenni turned away a penalty kick from New Mexico's Michael Calderon in the 25th minute to keep the Lobos off the scoreboard.
"Omar making that save, at that point of the game, gave the team a lot of confidence," added UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer.
Even though the Aggies were outshot that night 18-4, Zeenni continued to make one clutch save after another as the game progressed. Midway through the second half, the Arcadia, Calif., native made two saves from point-blank range; the latter of the two initiated a UC Davis counterattack that ended with his teammate scoring the game-winning goal moments later.
Zeenni earned his 25th career victory in net, which moved him to within one of the Big West's all-time top-10 list.
The netminder's defensive accolades are the first earned by an Aggie this season; Zeenni was also the last student-athlete to receive defensive honors when the conference recognized him on Sept. 3, 2012.
Throughout his three-plus years at UC Davis, Zeenni has now been honored by the conference with its weekly distinction on five occasions.
The victory was UC Davis' second win over a ranked opponent in its last seven road games, following a 2-1 overtime win last October at then No. 25 UC Santa Barbara.
With its win, the all-time series history between UC Davis and New Mexico stands a 1-1-0.