Roommates Kris Schultz and Matt Wiesenfarth made quite a pair last fall trying to maneuver around the UC Davis campus on crutches.
The men’s soccer players were recovering from surgery after suffering ACL injuries within a few weeks of each other early last season.
“We had some funny times getting in and out of the car to go to rehab,” Schultz said. “At home, we’d watch TV together and swap ice packs and heating pads.”
But the grueling and tedious workouts have extended their careers, giving the redshirt seniors two more shots at beating Causeway Cup rival Sacramento State.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
UC Davis (7-6-1, 3-1-1 Big West Conference) hosts the Hornets (5-7-1, 2-3-0) on Saturday at 3 p.m.; next Saturday, the Aggies travel to Sac State. Both teams scored impressive conference upsets at home on Wednesday. UCD defeated No. 27 Cal Poly 3-2 in overtime, and Sac State shocked No. 13 UC Santa Barbara 5-2.
Wiesenfarth and Schultz grew up in Sacramento and were regulars at Sac State matches as they progressed from youth to high school stars who were recruited by Sac State and UC Davis, among others.
Schultz, a goalkeeper, was a three-time league MVP at Natomas High School, where he had 650 saves and 31 shutouts while leading the Nighthawks to two Division III section championships.
Wiesenfarth, a forward, was the Delta River League Player of the Year and scored 39 goals to help Jesuit go 30-0-0 and beat rival Davis for the Division I section championship as a senior in 2010.
Some of Wiesenfarth’s finest moments for the Aggies have been against Sac State. As a freshman, he scored his first college goal against the Hornets (in a 3-2 overtime loss) and had the game-winning goals in 2012 and 2013.
I went to the (Bonney) game five days after having surgery. I was drugged up on my pain medication, with a new ACL in my leg and facing 10 months of rehab. It was just a weird experience.
Matt Wiesenfarth, UC Davis forward, on attending a game against Sac State last season
“I don’t know if it’s because it’s the hometown team that I grew up watching play or that through the years I have had a lot of good friends play in that program,” Wiesenfarth said.
His success against the Hornets made missing last year’s matches even more difficult, especially since the Hornets played their home match at Republic FC’s Bonney Field. That game ended in a 0-0, two-overtime draw before the Hornets topped the Aggies 3-2 in two overtimes a week later.
“I went to the (Bonney) game five days after having surgery,” said Wiesenfarth, who is four behind Quincy Amarikwa’s Division I Aggies career points record of 43. “I was drugged up on my pain medication, with a new ACL in my leg and facing 10 months of rehab. It was just a weird experience.”
Schultz knows all about weird experiences. He missed the 2013 season after having surgery on his left and right hips. He was having a breakthrough season last year – he had 21 saves in a 0-0 draw against Ohio State – before the ACL injury ended his campaign after eight matches.
“It’s been a long, frustrating process,” said Schultz, who has played 11 matches this season, surpassing the nine in his previous four years combined. “But I think it’s been a rewarding process. Rather than everything falling into place, I’ve had to fight for things.”
Schultz will play against Sac State for the first time Saturday.
It’s been a long, frustrating process. But I think it’s been a rewarding process. Rather than everything falling into place, I’ve had to fight for things.
UC Davis goalie Kris Schultz, on his injury-plagued career
“I grew up in Natomas, and I’ve been going to Sac State games with my dad since I was 7,” Schultz said. “I’ve known the Sac State coaches (Michael Linenberger and Matt McDougall) since I was 10. So Sac State has a special place in my heart. Getting to play against them for the first time holds some significance to me.”
Wiesenfarth and Schultz will try to help UCD build on its 12-7-1 advantage in the series.
“I know Kris is excited about (starting), and I’m looking forward to him having a good game,” UC Davis coach Dwayne Shaffer said. “And Wiese has really recovered from last season’s injury. He’s really causing havoc on defenses because he’s a crafty, creative player.”
Causeway Cup soccer
- Who: Sacramento State vs. UC Davis; Aggies lead series 12-7-1
- When: Saturday at UC Davis, 3 p.m.; Oct. 24 at Sac State, 3 p.m.
- Tickets: $8 at UC Davis, $10 at Sac State