There are more important things than winning.
Despite losing on Friday to Stanford, men’s water polo coach Steve Doten said honoring the seniors with playing time in their last home game was more important than the win.
“It was senior night and I wanted to show them respect and give them their time,” Doten said. “I think they’ve earned the right to get some minutes in the game.”
The Aggies split their weekend set, losing to Stanford on Friday and toping Santa Clara on Saturday. With the split, UC Davis moves to 16-8 overall and 13-1 in Western Water Polo Association matches.
Friday – No. 3 Stanford 12, No. 14 UC Davis 4
The stands were packed Friday night as the Aggies faced the Cardinal on senior night.
Before the match, Erik Quinn, Mattie Stone, Carlos Martinez, Cory Lyle and Matt Richardson were honored.
After the seniors were recognized, UC Davis opened the game playing with inspiration.
In the first half the Aggie defense kept the potent Stanford offense from running away with the game.
Senior Erik Quinn refused to allow any easy goals and would tally a total of seven saves.
“Quinn did a great job in the cage for us,” Doten said. “As a senior, I wanted to give him his time.”
Goals from Aaron Salit and Ryan Hagens cut the Stanford lead to three by the end of the first half.
The game would get even closer in the third quarter as Walter Eggert scored on an outside shot to bring the score to within two.
“Walter is one of our better outside shooters,” Doten said. “If he can hit a shot like he did, he can open up the middle. We needed more of that.”
Though Stanford responded with a goal of their own, Colin Hicks would bring the Aggies back to within striking distance as he converted on a five-meter penalty shot.
The game got out of hand in the fourth period as the Cardinal utilized their strength to score five goals and put the game away.
“They’re talented and have great physical conditioning,” Doten said. “The beauty about Stanford is they use similar tactics [to us]. The tactics I’m teaching work. Hopefully we can take something away from [the game].”
Saturday – UC Davis 6, No. 12 Santa Clara 4
The Aggies were able to finish the regular season on a high note with a win over favored Santa Clara.
UC Davis showed defensive tenacity and clutch scoring to close out the mild upset.
Martinez and Colin Hicks netted early goals for the Aggies, giving them a 2-1 lead. Lyle and Matt Vowell each added goals of their own to send the game into halftime tied at four.
Richardson scored the only two goals in the second frame, and UC Davis would never look back. The Aggie defense continued to stymie the Broncos as goalie Kevin Peat tallied ten saves.
With the win, the Aggies are now 3-0 on the season against the Broncos.
With its conference record, UC Davis is almost guaranteed a high seed as the Aggies for the WWPA Championship starting on Nov. 19.
MATT WANG can be reached at email@example.com.