A homegrown product, Davis native Dakotah Mohr has taken her game to the next level this season. With that, she’s unexpectedly taken her young No. 11 UC Davis women’s water polo team into the national spotlight.
The sophomore sensation leads the Aggies in both goals (30) and ejections drawn (77). With 14 games left on the season, her drawn kick out total puts her only 15 ejections shy of Christi Raycraft’s 2008 single-season record of 92.
The Aggies, whose youth and inexperience were not expected to lead to success so early, have reached as high as No. 7 nationally, finding themselves 14-6 on the season.
Mohr recently sat down with Aggie Sports Writer Sammy Brasch to discuss everything from the rapid growth of her team to transitioning from the Western Water Polo Association to a competitive Big West Conference.
I get to talk to [coach] Jamey [Wright] twice a week, but I have a feeling you know him a little better than me. How long have you two known each other?
I’ve known Jamey since the third grade. My older sister started [playing water polo] and I copied her. I was part of the packaged deal. Jamey is just an amazing coach. He has so much experience and puts a lot of trust in me.
What’s the main difference between last year’s team that advanced to the Final Four and this year’s team?
Our team is so different this year. Last year, it was all about seniors. This year, we’re so young and the talent is really spread out. We also have an amazing class of freshman – it’s just so much fun that everybody gets a chance to play. Nobody is worried about pacing themselves throughout the game. This team really is a team effort.
Can you talk a bit more about the importance of having that kind of depth?
Depth really is the key. We have so many players that can do so many different things for us. We’re also really well conditioned. We’ve been working our butts off. Jamey and [assistant coach] Katherine [O’Rourke] are definitely not taking it easy on us in the pool.
How have you switched from being a veteran team to such a young and talented team so quickly?
I think the seniors left huge shoes to fill and we all knew we had to step up our game. Personally, I’m more comfortable. With more playing time it makes me feel better about what I am doing in the pool and not so focused on getting everything I want to get done in a couple minutes. On a team basis, everyone is playing better because we are all just having so much fun. Also, nobody in the water polo world had big expectations for us, so anything we do well is great. If we don’t do so well, nobody expected us to do well anyway. I think that really helps our freshman and whole team relax and play well.
How does the team feel about making the big jump from the WWPA to the Big West?
It’s a big step up for the program. The WWPA was pretty much us and Loyola Marymount in the championship year after year, but this conference is much more competitive. There are so many big conference games, and it makes it that much more fun when you don’t have to play Cal State East Bay three or four times a year. It does kind of suck that there isn’t an automatic qualifier [to the national tournament] for the Big West, but it makes the conference championship that much more important.
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.