Event: Western Water Polo Association Championship
Teams: No. 5 UC Davis vs. No. 4 Santa Clara; TBA; TBA
Where: Zee Allred Aquatics Center; Orange, Calif.
When: Friday at 3:15 p.m.; Saturday TBA; Sunday TBA
Who to watch: Prior to this year, senior Brendan Sigourney had played in limited action.
In 2009, he has emerged as a key presence as a hole set and post-up man in the half-court offense.
Entering this weekend’s conference tournament, the Carmel, Calif. native has 20 steals and 33 drawn exclusions.
Did you know? For the first time in five years, the Aggies have not received a top-four ranking entering the WWPA Championships.
Even with top-four seeds in the past, the Aggies were still not able to capture the conference title.
Preview: The Aggies face a familiar opponent on Friday as they match-up with Northern California rival Santa Clara.
The Broncos and Aggies met just five days ago – a game in which Santa Clara won 10-4 at Schaal Aquatics Center.
“We had played a hard-fought battle at Pacific the night before, then had to turn around and play a game early on Saturday,” said coach Steve Doten. “We knew we were likely to play Santa Clara again [at conference], so the question was how much we wanted to show them.”
In a strategic coaching move, Doten decided to play his bench instead of his starters, effectively keeping the Aggies’ game plan a secret heading into conference.
UC Davis and Santa Clara had met twice before Saturday’s contest, with the teams splitting those two games.
The Aggies will look to its depth that was showcased on Saturday to lead them past the Broncos.
Along with Sigourney, senior defender Jim Breen is having a strong season after he emerged as a star during the 2008 season.
He shares the team lead with 24 goals and has connected on 15 of 24 man-up situations.
On the defensive end, the Aggies have allowed just under eight goals per game, and have provided much help to sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Peat, who has tallied 208 saves in 24 starts.
“I think we’re ready for conference,” Doten said. “The guys understand the plan and know what to do. The upperclassmen have done a great job carrying the weight of the team.”
The winner of the UC Davis-Santa Clara game will most likely face the undefeated and top-seeded Loyola Marymount Lions.
– Sammy Brasch and John Heller