Coming in with their lowest seed at the Western Water Polo Association Championships in five years, the Aggies were looking to prove their ranking wrong and avenge their senior day rout at the hands of Santa Clara.
For the second straight week, however, the Broncos took this unofficial mascot horse cup, defeating the Aggies Friday night, 8-6.
With the loss, the fifth-ranked Aggies saw their hopes at a conference championship end and essentially terminated their season a few days early. After the death sentence was given, UC Davis responded the best way a team with an expiration date could.
The Aggies went out in style, stomping on Chapman, 11-5 and upsetting second-seeded Air Force a day later, 10-8.
“This isn’t quite the way we wanted to finish,” senior Brendan Sigourney said. “But I think we really played our game on Saturday and Sunday and I’m glad we went on our terms.”
No. 13 Santa Clara 8, No. 15 UC Davis 6
The four, five-seed game was quite a familiar match-up for these two Northern California rivals.
Much like during the regular season, the Broncos edged the Aggies beating them for the third game out of four attempts.
Despite a stellar performance by second team All-WWPA selection Cory Lyle, who tallied a hat trick in Friday’s game, UC Davis was unable to put away Santa Clara for the second time in two weeks.
“It hurts to lose to these guys,” Lyle, who had a team high eight goals on the weekend said. “If there is one team I didn’t want to end our season it would be them.”
The Aggies took an early 1-0 lead with freshman Jared Clapham’s man-up goal to start a dominating first half for the Aggies.
Although the momentum was clearly on the Davis side, the halftime score was deadlocked at three.
The tide was shifted strongly after the break as the Broncos came out firing on all cylinders, scoring four unanswered to start the third frame.
Despite a shutdown defensive effort by first team All-WWPA selection Carlos Martinez, the Bronco offense proved too much for the Aggie defense.
Sophomore Goalkeeper Kevin Peat tallied only four saves, all coming in the second period as UC Davis gave up five goals in the second half.
No. 15 UC Davis 11, Chapman 5
The Aggies started their consolation play against the host Panthers early on Saturday.
From the opening whistle the Aggies decided to forget about the past and leave all they had in the pool.
Led by senior Dave Cooper, an impressive showcase of scoring from a variety of players helped give UC Davis a 6-0 lead at half.
Cooper, who came into the game with only two goals on the season, exploded with a career-high four goal game in his second-to-last contest as an Aggie.
Martinez showed why he earned first-team honors, scoring his first career hat-trick and first career goal at a conference game.
Lyle punched in two more as the Aggies smoked the host Panthers in front of the home crowd. The win gave them a match-up with the second-seed Air Force who had been upset by seventh-seeded Whittier on Friday.
“Taking down Chapman was fun,” Cooper said. “But we all had our sights on the consolation championship against Air Force.”
No. 15 UC Davis 10, No. 14 Air Force 8
On the third game of the weekend, the number three was the Aggies’ ticket to success.
Three juniors, Martinez, Lyle and Lefty Matt Richardson all had three goals to avenge a UC Davis overtime loss to the Falcons in October.
The Aggies fell behind at half at 6-5, but in the third quarter of the game the Falcons fell victim to an assault of five unanswered Aggie goals.
Sunday’s game marked the career finale for Cooper, Sigourney and All- WWPA conference tournament team selection Jim Breen.
“This game is the way we wanted our careers to end,” Breen said. “Ya, I wish it was for the conference championships but it feels great to end on a good win.”
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at email@example.com.