Nov. 3, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. - Ashley Kawasaki's aggressive, and heads-up play on a UC Davis counterattack midway through the first half of Sunday's Big West season finale at Aggie Soccer Field, led to the game's only goal as the Aggies extended their win streak over UC Santa Barbara to four matches with a 1-0 win.
UC Davis ends the 2013 campaign with a 6-9-3 overall record and 3-5-1 Big West mark; the loss pushed UCSB's record to 9-9-1 and 3-5-0 respectively and eliminated the Gauchos from postseason action.
In addition to ending the careers of UC Davis' eight-member senior class-Kiele Argente, Stephanie Bell, Bridget Berman, Ashley Edwards, Hannah Hicks, Kirsten Holmberg, Emily Irion and Mary Beth Mazurek-in the best possible way, Sunday's victory also capped a season that included head coach Maryclaire Robinson's 200th career victory.
"Those wins are my staff's wins," said Robinson following the match. "Colin (Garon) has been a great addition, Rozie (assistant coach Rozanne DeWeese) is a huge reason why I have been able to earn as many wins as I have. She has been by my side for almost a decade."
Six minutes into the game, UC Santa Barbara goalkeeper Beth Ritter made a miraculous save on a header from Haley Hughes on the Aggies' inaugural scoring opportunity of the match. By correctly anticipating the direction of Hughes' header, and fully extending her arms on her diving play, Ritter was able to preserve a scoreless tie.
Ritter was not as fortunate during a UC Davis counterattack that took place later that half.
On a play that originated with a long ball from Taylor Jern that cover nearly two-thirds of the field before striking the turf, Kawasaki and Ashley Edwards each sprinted towards the Gauchos' net in an attempt to corral a bouncing ball before it rolled out-of-bounds.
The only Aggie with an angle on the play, Kawasaki, and a Gaucho defender who mirrored her actions even though she trailed the play by a half step, raced towards Ritter who came off her line in an attempt to diffuse a potential UC Davis scoring opportunity.
Realizing that three players, racing at full speed head-on, were about to converge on the ball at the same time, Kawasaki waited until the last possible moment to peel off to the side to avoid a collision with either UCSB player. By doing so, she avoided any contact, but was in perfect position to witness two Gauchos crash into one another.
With Ritter now on the ground next to her teammate who was frantically trying to reach her feet as quickly as possible, Kawasaki calmly collected the loose ball and struck it towards an empty net.
"Once I saw both players on the, I just wanted to score as quickly as possible," said Kawasaki.
The goal was her second of the season.
Even though UCSB took 10 shots from that point, until the final horn, Jern was easily able to turn away the three shots that required an effort to collect her career-high fifth shutout of the season.
The Aggies' victory also preserved the team's chance of advancing to next week's playoffs at Cal State Fullerton; needing help from two other teams to punch its ticket, a UC Davis victory was required before the team could shift its attention towards the out-of-town scoreboard.
With the results of those matches not falling the Aggies' way, the team ended its season tied for fifth place alongside Hawai'i, just one point shy of the final available spot at next week's tournament. Even though the Aggies fell short of its ultimate goal heading into its final homestand, their final overall standing is the second highest earned by the team since joining the Big West Conference.
In 2011, UC Davis ended the regular season in third place to earn its inaugural Division I postseason appearance.
POSTGAME INTERVIEWS: ROBINSON & KAWASAKI: