The UC Davis women’s water polo team finished off conference play in true Aggie fashion.
Eight different UC Davis players scored and Santa Clara was held scoreless for 29 minutes in an 8-3 victory at the Schaal Aquatics Center.
The contest was the last conference test for UC Davis before it travels to Loyola Marymount to compete as the likely top seed at the Western Water Polo Association Championships.
“I’m glad for the one-seed because it’s a reflection that we’ve been playing well, and that’s a good thing,” said head coach Jamie Wright. “You want to play well going into conference.”
The Aggies have won seven straight conference games, including big wins over the defending conference champion Loyola Marymount, Cal State Bakersfield and Santa Clara. Overall, they have won nine straight and 13 out of their last 15.
UC Davis’ success this weekend and past month has been spearheaded by its defense.
Sophomore goalie Casey Hines, who shutout Santa Clara this weekend, started this year unsure of her position as the starting goalie, but she has since earned the minutes in the cage.
“I know it’s a cliché, but talk about stepping up and filling a void,” Wright said. “She has really asserted herself.”
Hines attributes her success this year solely to the Aggies’ defense.
“Every week before a game we tune the defense to the strengths of whatever team we’re playing so we know what to expect,” Hines said. “I think that really helps us to watch film and to know what is really coming so that when these teams come, we know how to defend against whatever their strongest points are.”
Hines stopped all three shots she faced before being subbed out of the game in the fourth quarter with UC Davis leading 7-0. For the season, she has tallied 156 saves against 132 goals while recording 19 steals.
Junior Lindsay Kiyama tallied four steals Saturday to take her team-high total to 46.
Senior Jessica Soza was her usual terror on defense, earning praise from Hines after the game.
“Soza is one of the best defenders in all of water polo, in my opinion,” Hines said. “It just helps to have her there. I’m a little less nervous whenever she’s in, so it’s nice.”
UC Davis will conclude its regular season Friday at 4 p.m. against Pacific at the Schaal Aquatics Center.
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.