The mood was just right.
The stands were packed with water polo alumni and students. The Aggies had the taste of blood in their mouths and were ready to return the favor to the visiting Santa Clara University.
Just one game and two weeks removed from a 10-8 loss to the Broncos, the Aggies were a different team, bouncing back with a vengeance to dominate all 32 minutes in the pool on their way to a 12-7 victory.
“I really like the way our team played as a whole,” said senior captain Grant Muenter, who had two scores on the day. “It was the first time everyone contributed and played with a lot of energy.“
Senior Adam Bennett started off the game in style with a ridiculously scrappy backhand that would inspire a montage of dirty backhands throughout the game.
Bennett ignited the Aggies with another 6-on-5 goal while junior Cory Lyle followed with a man-up shot of his own to put the Aggies on top 4-1 in the second.
How the Aggies finished the half is how their whole game went. A steal by Muenter, ejection drawn by Lyle and a goal by senior Danny Driscoll put the Aggies up 6-3.
Aaron Salit extended the Aggies lead to 7-3 early in the third with a quick backhand shot from two meters before the Broncos cut the lead to two.
Santa Clara freshman goalie Michael Wishart proved unable to handle the backhand attack of the Aggies. Senior Paul Wilson backhanded one from two meters and Muenter threw up a left backhand from no angle at all that found its way to the top left corner of the cage for his second goal of the game.
Bennett led all scorers with three goals for his seventh hat trick of the year.
The Aggies went 4-for-6 on man-up opportunities and kept the Broncos‘ Jack Wall under control. When the two teams last met, Wall scored six goals. This time, he found the back of the net just twice.
“It was nice to come out and execute like we did,” Bennett said. “But we still a got a really long road ahead of us“
The Aggies improve to 7-8 on the season and 5-2 in the conference. They return to action next week with two home matches against No. 4 Pepperdine University and defending national champion California.
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.