IRVINE, Calif. —
For the third consecutive year, UC Davis' season hung in the balance, coming down to penalty kicks after playing to a draw following 110 minutes. However, after coming away empty handed in each of the last two seasons, the story would be different in 2018.
Senior managerial economics major Jon Laughlin
came off the bench and denied Carlos Contreras on UC Irvine's sixth attempt of the night, just before freshman chemical engineering major Grant Fidler
slotted home the winner to the lower left side, advancing the Aggies, 6-5, on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw with the top-seeded Anteaters on Saturday night in a Big West Conference Tournament semifinal at Anteater Stadium.
Fifth-seeded UC Davis improves to 11-4-4 overall and moves on to face second-seeded UC Riverside in the championship match on Saturday (Nov. 10) at a time to be announced in Riverside, Calif. The Aggies are into the championship match for the third time in the program's history, but are still looking for their first win after falling to CSUN (1-0) in 2012 and Cal State Fullerton on penalties, 4-3, in 2017 following a scoreless draw.
No. 19 UC Irvine, the league's regular season champion which defeated UC Davis, 2-1, earlier in the season at Aggie Soccer Field, moved to 11-5-3 overall with the draw.
Both teams were good through their first two attempts before Luis Leon clipped the crossbar on the Anteaters' third attempt of the night. Freshman neurobiology, physiology, and behavior major Emmanuel Doherty
followed makes by managerial economics majors Andy Velasquez
and Matt Baringer
with one of his own to give the Aggies the lead, but UC Davis missed wide left on its fourth attempt, allowing UC Irvine to pull even after Ivan Canales buried his attempt.
Christian Gutierrez and Lawrence Yamaguchi for the Anteaters, and statistics major Dylan Wood
and biological sciences major Jake Haupt
for the Aggies, each made good on their attempts, setting up the dramatic finish. Contreras, a reserve goalkeeper, then stepped to the spot and put his attempt toward the right post, but Laughlin — who had played in only 49 minutes in two appearances during the regular season — was there to punch it away from danger and give his team a chance.
Fidler then stepped up and fired to the left side as UC Irvine goalkeeper Greg Patenaude dove to the right post, ending the match and igniting the UC Davis celebration.
The Anteaters thought they had it won during the run of play, finally putting one in the back of the net in the 95th minute only to have it called back due to offsides. The Aggies then followed with a near score of their own as senior managerial economics major Roy Boateng
put a header off a corner just high at the near post two minutes later.
Junior global disease biology major Wallis Lapsley
then smothered a low one-hopper by Canales just three minutes into the second overtime and Patenaude did the same on an attempt by junior sociology major Adam Mickelson
on a rebound of a Jacob Rudolph
shot just 30 seconds later.
UC Irvine finished with a 14-12 advantage in shot attempts, but both teams were only able to manage just three shots on goal apiece for the match as Lapsley and Patenaude each earned a shutout. For Lapsley, it was his seventh clean sheet of the season — good for a tie for third on the school's all-time single-season list with Nic Platter's total in 2003 and second all by himself on the program's Division I list, putting him one short of Ryan McCowan's total in 2008.
Four different Aggies finished with a pair of shot attempts on the night — including a pair on frame by Mickelson — while Alvaro Quezada finished with three shots to lead all players for the Anteaters.
Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer
(Opening statement): "Extremely excited. Happy for my student-athletes. They played a great game and both teams had some incredible chances. I thought it was a 50-50 game all the way through. We obviously advance on penalty kicks. To go on the road and to play at Northridge and Irvine is extremely difficult. My team stepped up and played hard and played well, and got two results on the road, so I'm extremely happy for them."
(On penalty kicks): "We've been in them enough. The thing is, out of our penalty kick takers out there, I know for a fact that four of them were freshmen. We worked on them, but it was more that we got a result."
(On returning to the final): "The biggest thing for us is playing on the turf. We'll have to adapt quickly. I know Tim (Cupello) has got a really good team kind of rolling right now, but so do I and we're pretty excited about the group. We'll have to go back home and rest and recover. We're excited for it."
Sophomore defender Jake Haupt
(On making his PK): "I'm not done playing with Roy (Boateng) yet. I'm not ready to let him go yet. I want to play at least one more game with him because he's my partner in the back right there. That's what I was thinking of the entire time. I don't think I've ever hit a better PK in my life. I felt confident."
Senior defender Roy Boateng
(On watching his teammates take PK's) "It's a collective effort. Defense wins championships. We've been kind of keeping that same mentality. Getting the guys that were feeling good about it step up, that's what a leader does, is support the team. I trust my guys, and they delivered. Super proud of them."
(On preventing a UC Irvine goal) "They don't really like to go behind us because we have a lot of pace in the back. Making sure we stepped to them and making sure they didn't feel comfortable turning at us. We were able to create a lot of chances going forward."
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 5-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
Launched in 2017-18, the Aggie EVO System is UC Davis Athletics' investment in the primary mission of preparing student-athletes for a successful "launch" after graduation. Thanks to a collaboration of alumni, university resources, corporate partners, coaches and Student-Athlete Outcomes staff, all Aggies are guided over four years to acquire the skills, knowledge, opportunities and tools to better know and navigate the "World of Work" after graduating from UC Davis. Follow the Aggie EVO system on Twitter and Instagram at @AggieEVO.