After nearly 85 minutes of scoreless soccer, the 1,344 fans watching UC Davis play No. 8 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday at Aggie Soccer Field were ready to cheer.
And reigning Big West Conference Player of the Week Alex Henry finally gave them a reason.
Henry curled a direct free kick into the upper left corner of the goal at 84:50 and UC Davis held on for a 1-0 victory as Omar Zeenni and the Aggie defense shut out the powerful Gauchos (8-2-3, 2-2-1).
UCD (6-4-4) won its fourth straight game and improved to 4-1 in conference, picking up three more points to remain in second place in the Big West standings.
“It’s a great accomplishment for this team and a huge win for the UC Davis athletics program,” said Aggie head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “UC Santa Barbara is one of the pinnacle programs in the country, but I thought we were the better team on the day.
“It’s a great win and puts us in a great position in the conference. Our goal is to finish in the top two and have a shot to make the Big West Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.”
UCD last defeated the Gauchos on Oct. 11, 2008, as UC Santa Barbara had won the past six matches. The last UCD victory on Aggie Soccer Field was on Nov. 23, 2006.
The Aggies created offensive opportunities from the start with Alex Aguiar getting a good chance in the opening minutes. UCSB didn’t take its first shot until the 16:46 mark, and Zeenni made three saves in his fifth shutout of the season. With 12 career shutouts, Zeenni is now alone in fourth place on the all-time Aggie list.
“Omar did a great job in directing his defense and I thought (Davis High graduate) Ryan Gross, Brian Ford, Ramon Martin del Campo and Alex Henry were outstanding (Saturday),” Shaffer said. “It was a great overall team effort in front of a huge crowd (Saturday). Hopefully the fans come back because they got to see a great soccer game.”
Notes: UCD is at Cal Poly on Tuesday (7 p.m.). … The Aggies are just one point behind Sacramento State for first place in the Big West. … Henry was named to the Soccer America Men’s Team of the Week on Thursday.