Event: Big West Conference Championships
Where: 49er Campus Pool – Long Beach, Calif.
When: Friday through Sunday, all day
Who to watch: Senior Dana Nelson will be playing in the final tournament of her career.
The San Diego, Calif. native had a career season, scoring 30 goals and playing 505 minutes. The co-captain was a leader out of the pool as well, guiding some of the freshmen to a stellar season.
Did you know? Even if the Aggies were to win the Big West Tournament, they would not qualify for the national championships.
According to NCAA bylaws, a conference tournament needs to be in existence for two years before the winner of the event is given an automatic bid to the NCAA finals.
Because the Big West instituted the conference tournament just last year, the winner will not get the automatic bid. Therefore, even if the Aggies were to take the tournament this weekend, their season would be over.
Preview: It all comes down to this.
After nearly three months of matches, UC Davis will finish its season at this weekend’s Big West Tournament. The Aggies will enter as the fifth seed, but coach Jamey Wright isn’t worried about his team’s placement.
“There’s no real head of the pack in this conference,” Wright said. “It’s the right recipe for a lot of upsets, so it’s going to be an exciting tournament.”
UC Davis will play a familiar foe in UC Irvine to open up play. The Aggies lost to the Anteaters twice earlier this season, both one-goal games. Therefore, Wright is hoping the third time is the charm.
“I feel we have the advantage in playing them for the third time,” Wright said. “We know what we need to fix on our side to beat them. [The Anteaters] might think that they don’t have to change much in their game plan as they’ve already beaten us twice.”
Wright feels there will be a good chance the matches this weekend will be close one-goal affairs, so it’s important for his team to play mistake-free water polo.
“We need to limit the number of easy goals,” he said. “The past two times we met [UC] Irvine, we gave up a couple of goals due to lack of hustle. We can’t have any of those happen this time around.”
If UC Davis wins, it will match up against top-seeded Pacific, a team the Aggies topped earlier in the season 10-9. Wright, however, isn’t looking past Friday night’s game.
“To me, Saturday seems like next season,” Wright said. “We need to focus on one game at a time, and that starts with [UC] Irvine.”
– Jason Alpert