Event: UC Davis at Cal
Teams: Aggies, 0-0; Bears; 0-0
Where: Spieker Aquatics Complex – Berkeley, Calif.
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Who to watch: Defense is going to be the focal point of the season, and goalie and team captain Kevin Peat has the chance to lead the Aggies from goal.
In last season’s loss against the Bears, the native of Walnut Creek, Calif. registered seven saves.
“It’s great for us to have him in the cage,” said coach Steve Doten. “If our defense breaks down, he comes up big for us with a huge save.”
Did you know? At this time last year, Cal was ranked third in the nation. In the same preseason poll for this season, Cal owns the top spot above UCLA and Stanford at second and third, respectively.
Still, this doesn’t faze the Aggies.
“[UC Berkeley] is already talking about a national championship,” Doten said. “That’s okay with our guys. We want to compete and go against the best team in the country.”
Preview: Teams representing UC Davis face challenges and obstacles throughout the season. They put up with long road trips, came face to face with defeat and experienced the sweet taste of victory.
But some teams under the Aggie banner also experienced the anxiety of being cut. One season after several water sports were on the chopping block and at risk of being cut from the UC Davis sports budget, the men’s water polo team is poised to let the administration know that they made the correct choice in keeping them.
“We’re still affected by budget constraints,” Doten said. “But we’re not taking [the decision] lightly. We really appreciate that this year; we can represent this university, this institution. [We] are going to give 100%. We’re not taking anything for granted.”
The Aggies will need to give 100% as five of the six head-to-head matches for UC Davis are against opponents ranked in the top 25 in the nation.
Doten, however, sees a stingy defense as the Aggies’ best way of making a statement in the Big West Conference. The defense has an opportunity to do so against the Bears, who handed a 12-4 drubbing to the Aggies last season.
“Last season, we did well when our defense was the best part of the game,” said Doten. “A lot of our guys are coming back. Our defense will keep us competitive.”
The men’s water polo squad is not the only UC Davis team that Cal will play host to as the Aggies will also challenge the Bears on the gridiron.
“Hopefully both UC Davis teams can go out there, challenge Cal and get an upset or two.”
– Matt Wang