Event: Big West Conference Championship
Teams: No. 9 UC Davis vs. TBA
Records: Aggies, 22-9 (4-1)
Where: Chris Kjelsden Pool – Stockton, Calif.
When: Saturday at 5:45 p.m.; Sunday at TBA
Who to watch: After five starters departed from last season‘s team, coach Jamey Wright wasn‘t sure who was going to fill the void.
It turns out one player didn‘t step up – instead, three did.
Senior Lindsay Kiyama had another impressive regular season showing, leading the team with 43 goals. Sophomore Dakotah Mohr shattered the single-season record for exclusions drawn with 127 – the previous record was 92. Senior Sophia Patronas set another school record with 41 assists on the year.
Did you know? The top three seeds in this weekend‘s Big West Tournament were decided by a coin flip
Cal State Northridge, UC Davis and UC Irvine all had identical 4-1 conference records, and the teams remained tied after all the tie-breaking methods had been tried. The flip landed the Matadors at No. 1, the Aggies No. 2 and the Anteaters No. 3.
All three games played between these top three teams have been decided by one goal. Two of the outcomes came in overtime play.
Preview: The seeds are set and the water is wet for the first ever Women‘s Water Polo Big West Championship Tournament.
“I‘m really excited about this,“ Wright said. “There will only be one first-ever tournament, so it‘s something we‘ll talk about 20 years from now.“
After nailing down the second seed with a little luck on the coin flip, the Aggies gained a first round bye. They‘ll play the winner of the matchup between UC Irvine and sixth-seed Long Beach State.
The No. 10 Anteaters dealt the Aggies their only conference loss of the season in a 6-5 nail-biter earlier this month. UC Davis just overtook UC Irvine‘s national ranking.
The Aggies have once again pieced a 20-win season together – Wright‘s 11th in a row. The regular-season accomplishments, though, don‘t matter any longer.
“At the start of the year, the hope was that we could talk about vying for the conference tournament,“ Wright said. “Now our season will partially be judged by how we do in the conference tournament.“
The Aggies have won seven one-goal games this season, a good indicator of how UC Davis plays when things get tight.
“That shows me something,“ Wright said. “We‘ve learned how to come from behind and persevere in the fourth quarter. You‘re going to have games like this weekend.“
– Sammy Brasch