Event: NorCal Cup
Teams: No. 9 UC Davis vs. Pacific; No. 4 Hawaii; No. 10 San Jose State; No. 5 California
Where: Sullivan Aquatic Center – Santa Clara, Calif.
When: Saturday at 11:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m.; Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m.
Who to watch: After losing the team‘s top two scorers, the burden of putting the ball in the cage will be placed mostly on senior sprinter Lindsay Kiyama.
A Concord, Calif. native, Kiyama led the team last year with 55 steals while winning 90 of her 101 sprints, capturing All-American honorable mention recognition in the process.
Did you know? UC Davis won a school-record 27 games last season, won the Western Water Polo Association title and then capped the season by placing fourth at the NCAA Championships at Stanford.
Preview: After losing eight seniors, the UC Davis women‘s water polo team has a new look heading into the 2009 season.
The team lost two All-Americans in Christi Raycraft and Laura Uribe, and to add to the challenge, UC Davis has transferred from the WWPA to the more competitive Big West Conference, which will feature the sport for the first time this season.
“It’s obviously great competition,“ Wright said. “I think consciously, the strength of our schedule indicates the direction I want our program to go.“
The Aggies‘ tough schedule will start this weekend, as three of the four teams they face are ranked in the country‘s top 10.
Although the team will look to Kiyama for leadership, Wright brings back eight players who scored double-figure goals or averaged double-figure minutes during the course of last season.
Among the key returnees is junior goalie Casey Hines, who emerged as the team‘s top goalie last season, starting 32 of 34 games and tallying 199 saves. Sophomore Dakotah Mohr, whose 34 goals and 42 drawn exclusions helped her earn a nod on the WWPA All-Freshman squad, will look to make an impact once again in her second campaign.
“The returning players will have a lot of responsibility heaped on their plate at the beginning of the season because they’re veterans,“ Wright said. “Then, as we have opportunities, we’ll have the first-year players getting in there. But we’ll go with our experience first.“
The squad has six true freshmen who will most likely play significant minutes this season, but the spotlight for the incoming players is on Kaylee Miller. Miller, who played for coveted Los Alamitos High School, was picked for the U.S. Youth National team – only the third player in school history to have done so.
– Sammy Brasch