Not to be overshadowed by the varsity team‘s successor overlooked by any of their opponents, the women‘s club program has done something that no UC Davis water polo team has ever accomplished.
They have captured the top seed in the country.
The team has not lost this season and is working on keepingitsperfect14-0record alive this weekend whenit travels toGresham,Ore.for the women‘s club national championships.
The Aggies will face No.16Washington in the first roundwith a potentialmatchupwith either Notre Dame orOregonloomingin the second round quarterfinals.
Falling one goal short of qualifying for nationals last year against the eventual national champs,FresnoState,the Aggies are lookingtotrump last year‘s defeat with an impressive showing this weekend.
“I think we have what it takes to go all the way this year,“ saidjuniorvice presidentKristinaForest.
UC Davis hasn‘t been slowed downmuchin its trip to the finals.It has defeated the defending champion Bulldogs three times thisyear,and itrecently concluded its regularseason witha9-5victory overChicoState in the league championships.
Much ofitssuccess can be contributed toits dominant defense and efficient offense.Juniorgoalie Elyssa Thome averages nine saves a game,andwiththe team shooting40percent,the Aggies are firing on all cylinders.
Like any good team,theyhave a coachwho knows how to trainthem and prepare the squad for upcoming opponents.In his12th year as UC Davis‘ head coach,Tony Sitohas the team trained to win.
“Speed and conditioning are really huge factors in our success,“ Forest said. “By the time the third and fourth quarters roll around,we have worn out the teams so much we just dominate them.“
The team tested its endurance in the most challenginggame of the yearagainst then-No.1Cal Poly.The two squads fought into four overtimes until the Aggies scored a minute into the eighth period of the game to upset the Mustangs,7-6.The Aggies confirmed the validity of their top seed the same weekend when they dominated No.4Arizona,6-3.
Junior Meredith Mueckeheadlines the Aggies onoffense,leading the team in both goals and assists.
Although UC Davis likes to run a flowing offense that takes advantage of mismatches,junior Kelly Marshall leads the team in ejections drawn.
While the Aggies are excited for the potential national championship,they have stuck to their usual pre-game routine leading up to the tournament.
“Besides tie dying t-shirts and fundraising so we can actually get there and stay in a hotel, [we haven‘t been doing] much,“ Forest said. “We are ready for this and feel confident that we can do well.“
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.