Goalie Omar Zeenni recorded two saves and the UC Davis men’s soccer team placed five shots on goal, but the Aggies could not overcome an early goal from Cal State Northridge in a 1-0 loss to the Matadors in Saturday’s Big West Conference Tournament championship match.
Though Northridge (15-6, 8-3) received the league’s automatic berth into next week’s NCAA Tournament, UCD (10-7-4, 8-4) could still get an at-large bid. The bracket will be announced by the NCAA on Monday at 2:30 p.m. in a live video stream on www.ncaa.com.
Saturday’s tournament final pitted the top-seeded teams in each division against each other as both teams advanced to the conference final for the first time in program history.
“I thought we played a great game overall,” UCD head coach Dwayne Shaffer said of his North Division champs. “In the second half, we were an outstanding team and we created numerous opportunities to put pressure on Northridge and unfortunately one didn’t go in for us (Saturday).
“I take my hat off to Cal State Northridge. They’re a good team and I know how tough it is to win 15 games in a college season.”
The game’s lone goal came at the 15:45 mark, when Sagi Lev-Ari put away his 14th of the season off an assist from Chris Smith.
The Aggies, actually outshot the Matadors, 14-8, and won five corner kicks, four of which came in the second half.
In the 40th minute, Eric Budniewski’s strike from outside the 18-yard box was knocked away by Northridge goalkeeper Michael Abalos, but the rebound went into the air. Brian Ford ran onto the ball and made a strong header attempt on goal, but Abalos was there with another save.
The Aggies continued to apply the pressure in the second half, forcing two saves out of Abalos in the opening 15 minutes.
In the 71st minute, Wiesenfarth’s attempt off a Kevin Schulte corner kick was blocked by the Matador defense, then Alex Aguiar laid a nice side volley shot on to goal in the 83rd minute, but Abalos was there to deflect it away.
Zeenni finished with two saves, including a diving stop in the first half.
Aggie Sarah Sumpter took 13th overall in the women’s 6K, while Trevor Halsted — a Davis High graduate — finished 20th in the men’s 10K race to lead the UCD men’s and women’s teams on Friday at the NCAA Division I West Regional at the Jefferson Golf Course in Seattle.
On the women’s side, Oregon won the team title,with the Aggies in sixth, the highest finish for a Big West Conference squad.
Sumpter posted a 20:03, while Alycia Cridebring was just behind her UCD teammate, crossing the line in a season-best time of 20:08 to finish 16th overall. Coming off of a fifth-place finish at the Big West Championships, Katie Fry was 33rd overall in a time of 20:36.
“(The) course and conditions offered a perfect day for a meet like this one,” said Aggie head coach Drew Wartenburg. “The Aggie women put together their finest team effort of the season, starting with an aggressive and well-executed start.”
Freshman Christine Hoffman (47th in 20:51), Lauren Wallace (68th), Kristine Lozoya and Shannon Harcus also ran well for UCD.
On the men’s side, Stanford took first, while the Aggies finished 15th behind Halsted’s 30.12 performance.
In addition, UCD freshman Brandon Pugh’s time of 30:50 was good enough for 65th overall, in front of teammates Amar Dholakia, Nathan Strum, Cody Nguyen, DHS grad Grayson Hough and Jordan Rushing.
“Trevor Halsted took a long look from within the lead pack en route to a top 20 finish, and the three frosh through the middle of our order — Brandon, Amar and Cody — had great days while debuting at the 10,000-meter distance,” said Wartenburg. “We have known all season that we stand as one of the youngest teams in the region, and for this group to put a guy on the podium and creep into the final ranking with a top-15 finish is a great building block for the future.”
Senior Allison Whitson fired 20 kills and notched 11 of her team’s 62 digs to lead the Aggies to a 25-23, 25-14, 29-27 sweep of UC Santa Barbara in Big West Conference action at The Thunderdome on Saturday.
With Friday’s sweep of Cal Poly, UCD (15-13) is now 9-6 in conference play.
Whitson, who led the Aggies with 19 kills the previous night at Cal Poly, tallied her 16th kill-dig double-double of the season. Junior outside hitter Devon Damelio added nine kills with 12 digs and three blocks, while sophomore middle blocker Victoria Lee hit .462 (8-2-13) for the night.
On Friday, UCD dropped Cal Poly, 25-10, 25-23, 29-27, despite nine kills from DHS graduate Molly Pon.