SACRAMENTO, Calif. – UC Davis dominated play in the first half and got a goal in the 35th minute, and despite a spirited second half the Hornets were unable to find an equalizer as their season came to close in a 1-0 loss to the Aggies at Hornet Field.
After Sacramento State defeated UC Davis in Davis two weeks ago by a 1-0 score, the Aggies reciprocated with a win on their Causeway opponent's home field. The Hornets end the season at 3-11-4 overall and 1-8-1 in the Big West while the Aggies improved to 8-8-3 overall and 4-4-2 in conference and will play in next week's Big West Tournament.
"Obviously its disappointing to lose the last game of the year at home, with a great crowd and against our rival," Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger said. "Davis had the run of the first half, but I was pleased with our reaction in the second half. I thought we played much better and moved the ball better and were a bit more dangerous, but it was not quite enough today."
The Aggies had an 11-1 shot advantage in the first half but just a 7-5 edge in shots in the second half with no tries on goal. The Hornets had just one shot in the first half but it was a quality strike by freshman Trevor Jackson that was rebuffed by UC Davis keeper Omar Zeenni in the 15th minute.
Hornet senior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo made some brilliant stops in the first half, but off one of them the Aggies found the game's only goal. In the 35th minute Castillo denied a close try from UCD's Matt Sheldon, but the rebound was corralled by Kevin Schultz and fed to Aggie junior Matt Wiesenfarth for an open finish.
Sacramento State was able to create some fantastic opportunities in the second half and had five total corner kicks, including consecutive corners in the 59th minute. After a Hornet free kick in the 65th minute the ball found Jackson for an open try that he fired to the left post but was denied on a superb diving save by Zeenni.
In the 73rd minute Hornet senior Isaac Ikyurav got to the post for a header try off a feed from freshman Andrew Gosselin but it missed just wide. Gosselin had a header attempt on an Ikyurav corner in the 85th minute that just went wide, and Ikyurav had a final try in the 87th minute that couldn't find the net as the Aggies held on for the win.
"I'm very proud of my young team. As tough as this season had been with our lack of success winning, the guys have been fantastic," Linenberger said. "They've worked hard in games and practices and the weight room and I couldn't have asked for more. We just need experience."
The two saves by Zeenni gave him his fifth shutout of the season while Castillo made four saves in his final collegiate match, moving his season total to 99 stops, the third highest single season total in program history. Castillo leaves the program second all-time with 243 saves, 15 shutouts, and16 wins and is third in program history in save percentage (.786) and goals against average (1.32).
Ikyurav had three shots in his final game as he, Castillo, Almog Strikowski, and Nate Barr were honored prior to the match. Strikowski, a team captain in his final year, played 85 minutes on Saturday and led the team's field players in minutes this season. After suffering a serious injury in a game against Seattle two months ago, Barr was with the team over the past few weeks and was an inspiration to his teammates.
"Its always a transition when you're losing your seniors; you lose experience, you lose maturity, you lose leadership, and each one of them brings something different to the team, both on and off the field," Linenberger said. "We'll miss all four of them in different ways, but every team goes through it every single year. We've lost bigger groups of seniors the last few years so we have a big talented group returning. Some of the young guys will have to step up in a variety of ways, including leadership on and off the field now that the seniors are leaving."
After losing eight starters from their 2012 squad, the Hornets will return eight starters from this year's team when the 2014 season kicks off next fall.