Ample scoring opportunities weren’t hard to come by in the Matadors’ 1-0 loss to visiting UC Davis in a Big West Conference match on Saturday night.
Pressure by the Aggies’ front four earned them multiple early looks on goal but a free kick from John Joslin proved to be the deciding factor.
“We didn’t play the brand of soccer that we’re accustomed to,” head coach Terry Davila said. “Davis had a lot to do with that. They did a good job of beating us.”
The Aggies (3-8, 1-2) came into the match winless in Big West play while the Matadors (2-7-2, 1-1-1) had not lost in three games.
An early possession battle led to multiple chances on both sides of the pitch. Davis’ first real opportunity came in the 17th minute when an Aggie defender whiffed at a ball centered to him right in front of the net. Davis forward Lance Patterson also found himself with an opportunity before being taken down by Matador defender Jeremy Hohn in the 20th minute. Hohn was given a yellow card for the tackle.
Joslin’s free kick in the 24th minute bounced through a crowd and off a leg before passing the outstretched arms of diving Matador goalkeeper Michael Abalos.
Timely substitutions by Davila helped create more shots for the Matadors as forward Camilo Rojas helped increase the ball movement and give the Matador offense some hope.
The Aggies switched up their game plan as the second half was under way. The Matador offense tried different ways to get the ball deep into the Aggie backfield but the swarming defense continued its dominance.
“We didn’t attack as a team,” Davila said. “We attacked with just two or three players and that’s not good enough to beat Davis.”
As time dwindled away, the Aggies offense began to push for an insurance goal, narrowly missing on a few chances via corner kicks.
The Matador defense gave the offense a chance for an equalizer by fending off the Aggies late push. Abalos did his part in the net with five saves, four coming in the second half.
Late chances from Matador forward Brian Behard and midfielder Rafael Garcia in the last five minutes of the game gave the fans some final hope. A header off a corner kick with 18 seconds left went wide of the net and ended any hopes of overtime.
The loss was the Matador’s first in conference play and also gave the Aggies their first conference win of the season.
The Matadors will next be in action on Wednesday night against the visiting Cal State Fullerton Titans. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.f