Event: UC Irvine Invitational
Teams: No. 12 UC Davis vs. No. 6 UC Santa Barbara; vs. TBA; vs. TBA
Records: Aggies 9-6, Gauchos 7-3
Where: Corona Del Mar High School – Newport Beach, Calif.
When: Saturday at 12:30 p.m.; Saturday at TBA; Sunday at TBA
Who to watch: Most of the Aggies‘ early success this season has been due to its solid defensive efforts anchored by sophomore Goalie Kevin Peat.
The Walnut Creek, Calif. native won Western Water Polo Association player of the week two weeks ago, and he followed it up with two 13-save games against conference rivals Loyola Marymount and UC San Diego last weekend.
Did you know? Like the NorCal Invite, which the Aggies played at Stanford in September, the UCI Invitational features all nationally ranked teams.
Other schools include No.1 Stanford, No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 Southern California.
Preview: After dropping two big conference games to No. 11 UCSD and No.5 LMU, the Aggies are looking for an early upset of Wolf Wigo’s Gaucho team to put them in the winner’s bracket of this coveted tournament.
With a win the Aggies would most likely match-up with defending national champions USC.
A first-round falter would most likely pit UC Davis against No. 17 Bucknell.
“The mentality of these young guys is that they want to beat Santa Barbara so they can play USC,” said coach Steve Doten. “I like to hear that chatter in the locker room.“
The Aggies have been relying on their sound defense and a variety of sources for offensive weaponry.
Freshman Jared Clapham and junior Carlos Martinez led UC Davis with two goals a piece last weekend against LMU and UC San Diego.
What is interesting about that is neither player is among the top scorers for the Aggie squad.
“We try to be who we are,” Doten said. “We try to play our style of water polo, whether it be against Stanford, USC, Santa Clara or Santa Barbara.“
– Sammy Brasch