For the UC Davis men’s soccer team, all of its hard work is finally paying off with a starring role on television.
By defeating Cal State Fullerton, 2-0, in a Big West Conference semifinal game Wednesday at Aggie Soccer Field, the Aggies advanced to Saturday’s league championship contest.
The 1 p.m. match — which UCD will host — is to be televised live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports San Diego and Fox College Sports.
On Wednesday, Aggie Matt Sheldon scored in the 26th minute, then Ian Palmer added his first career goal in the 82nd minute to send UCD to the first Big West title game in program history, where it will face Cal State Northridge.
“It’s playoff soccer right now. Everybody’s playing for one more game, and I didn’t expect anything less from Fullerton,” said Aggie head coach Dwayne Shaffer. “(Fullerton’s) got a good team with quite a few seniors in the group who are really good players, and I knew they would battle hard to try and move on to the final.”
With the win, UCD improved to 8-3 in conference play, and at 10-6-4, the Aggies have their first 10-win season since 2008, when they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sheldon’s third goal of the season came at the 26:26 mark when Eric Budniewski crossed a ball in from the right side that floated up and over the Titan defense. Sheldon headed the cross into the upper-right corner.
The Aggies took their lead into halftime, then turned up the defensive intensity to ward off 11 second-half shots from Fullerton. In the 50th minute, Gerzon Blanco and Ian Ramos had shots blocked by the UCD defense on back-to-back attempts, then Aggie goalie Omar Zeenni made a leaping save in the 72nd minute to prevent a goal.
“Once again Brian Ford, Ramon (Martin Del Campo) and Ryan Gross were outstanding (Wednesday), and Lucas (Mohageg) came in and won many head balls and defended very well after coming in,” Shaffer said. “Omar did his job once again, so I just felt like overall our team effort was really strong and they got another shutout. We’re playing good soccer at the right time of the year, and hopefully, we have another good performance on Saturday.”
After re-entering the game in the 80th minute, Palmer scored just over two minutes later. Matt Wiesenfarth received the ball in the middle of the field and made a run through the Titan defense before sending a pass to Palmer as he ran down the right side. Palmer’s shot sailed across the goal and into the lower-left corner.
Tickets for Saturday’s match are on sale now through the UCD ticket office by calling 530-752-AGS1 or visiting http://www.ucdavisaggies.com. General admission seating is $10, while student admission is $5.