Teams: Loyola Marymount University vs. UC Davis
Records: Aggies 15-7 (12-0); Lions 13-7 (11-1)
Where: Schaal Aquatic Center
When: Friday at 6 p.m.
Who to watch: Though the center is a focal point of the Aggie offense, attacker Cory Lyle has been making a push to become the leading scorer.
The senior from Carlsbad, Calif. is second on the team with 31 goals and has tallied a total of 22 assists. In the four games of the Rodeo tournament, Lyle scored a total of 10 goals and was a key component of the 9-6 win over Air Force.
Did you know? The upcoming game against the Lions has a huge impact on the upcoming Western Water Polo Association Championships. Currently, the Aggies are the challengers for the top spot with a 12-0 conference record. On Friday they take on the reigning champ where a win guarantees a favorable matchup in postseason play.
“This game will determine the first spot in conference championships,” said coach Steve Doten. “This game has a direct relationship to the layout of the conference tournament. The top four or five teams in our conference are very tough.”
Preview: The Aggies haven’t been playing as many games as they did in previous years. Because of large budget constraints last year, UC Davis is playing the minimum number of games, something that concerns coach Steve Doten.
“We’re playing fewer games because of the crisis last year,” Doten said. “We scheduled the least number of games to make the budget work. We’re a real college team that has to balance the budget and we try to do as best we can.”
While Doten stressed that the weekend off could result in fewer repetitions in such a crucial part of the season, he also noted that the break allowed injured athletes to recover and study for midterms.
“We’re an academics-first program and guys have to go through midterms,” Doten said. “A free weekend also helps with getting guys healthy.”
The Lions haven’t played in two weeks since their 9-2 win over Claremont and have one loss within the conference. Their only loss was given to them by a talented UC San Diego.
Doten expects the Lions to push tempo and continue to attack their defense.
“They counter-attack hard for four quarters,” Doten said. “We’re going to push the pace against them and they are trying to push the pace against us.”
– Matt Wang