The reminders can be found on his wall. An old swim cap that reads, “Goalies without commitments are just dreamers.” Motivational posters from side to side. The number 1,144 – the men’s water polo career saves record at UC Davis – it’s up there, too. Meet Kevin Peat. The redshirt freshman wants to be the best goalie in UC Davis history – and he very well could become just that.
“He’s the future,” said head coach Steve Doten. “You definitely want to build a team around that kid. I can’t say enough about him.“
Doten then proceeded to try anyway.
“He’s awesome. Phenomenal,” Doten continued. “I’m just so impressed by him.… Kevin understands the game so well. He’s an extremely bright kid. He has the intensity, the desire. It’s easy to see it during the games, but he brings that every day to practice. Every day. That’s huge.“
The practice intensity has translated to game success for the young goalie. Peat has started 10 straight games for No. 11 UC Davis entering Sunday play. The Aggies‘ schedule has wasted little time in throwing him into the fire, as they have faced six top-10 teams over that stretch.
“It was a little overwhelming at first,” Peat said. “You look down the pool after four years of high school water polo – you’re kind of in awe [of your opponents] the first couple games.“
The overwhelming effect didn’t last long.
Peat was at his best when the Aggies hosted arguably the best team in the country in No. 2 Stanford on Oct. 30.
UC Davis lost that night, but Peat had his official coming out party. The talented rookie played beyond his years, going off for 14 saves, stopping two 5-meter penalty shots in the process.
“Kevin has been McGee-like in that you make a mistake and he saves you,” Doten said. “They break down your defense and get a 5-meter, he blocks it.”
McGee-like? As in Mike McGee, the All-American who was named the Western Water Polo Association’s Player of the Year last season? The four-year starter who paced the Aggies to an undefeated season in conference play?
Yes, that McGee.
“When I was a redshirt on the team last year,” Peat said, “I watched Mike play, got to get in the water with him. He taught me a lot. Having my name thrown in there with his is just – that’s great.“
How do you replace someone like McGee?
By picking up right where he left off.
“I like to think I’m the guy carrying on what Mike started,” Peat said.
Carrying on and then some.
Peat has his eyes set on Mike DeJong’s all-time saves record. DeJong, who starred for the Aggies from 1994 to 1997, is the owner of the 1,144-save number posted on Peat’s wall – four more than McGee notched at UC Davis.
“It’s a heady, heady goal,” Peat said. “I go a little bit at a time, just work toward it.… I’ve got that up on the wall, and I look at it every day before I go out to practice.“
In the future, it could be his name, his accomplishments posted on the wall of those that hope to become UC Davis‘ next Kevin Peat.
A good day to hate people
Two games, two rivalries.
That’s what the UC Davis faithful had the chance to see on Saturday.
First, it was the men’s soccer team fighting UC Santa Barbara to a scoreless draw in front of an overflow crowd of 1,290 at Aggie Soccer Stadium.
Later, it was the football team falling to Sacramento State for the first time since 1999.
One rivalry that continues, one that’s been renewed.
To put it nicely, let’s just say the Aggies and Gauchos haven’t exactly liked each other for a while. The aggressive play, the scuffles, the fact that Big West Conference and national implications are on the line every time the teams face each other – all the fuel for a great rivalry is there.
Now, that fuel is back in the Causeway Classic series.
The Aggies had beaten the Hornets in eight straight. Sure, it was still a rivalry based on the proximity of the two campuses alone, but after Sac State’s 29-19 win at Aggie Stadium, this rivalry can be about football again, too.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN would like to thank those who spent their Friday night sleeping outside at Camp Beat UCSB. Hope you had as much fun as he did. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.