The UCI Invitational water polo tournament is considered one of the most difficult, with 15 of its 16 participants nationally ranked.
So going 2-2 and finishing the tournament with two wins isn’t bad at all for the Aggies.
UC Davis showed resiliency, bounding back from two Saturday losses for a pair of Sunday wins.
“We did a much better job at closing out the game against Northridge and San Diego,” said women’s coach Jamey Wright. “[On Saturday] I told them as early as it was in the season, we needed to play better starting tomorrow. [Winning the last two] was a good way to finish the tournament.”
The Aggies are now an even 5-5 on the season, with nine out of the next 13 games at home.
Saturday – No. 12 Long Beach State 12, No. 17 UC Davis 10
Against the 49ers, it was a tale of two halves.
The Aggies played better defense in the second half, that the first, something Wright associated with the loss.
“Against Long Beach State, we fell into past patterns and didn’t do a good job defensively,” Wright said.
The Aggies gave up four easy goals to 49er shooter Krizia Cerda, arguably the best offensive player on her team.
“You don’t let the best player on the other team beat you,” Wright said. “We gave her four goals in the first [quarter]. It’s unbelievable and almost unheard of. We let their best shooter take shots near our cage. We had ourselves to blame.”
Dakotah Mohr, Jessica Dunn, Carmen Eggert and Ariel Feeney each chipped in two goals, while goalkeepers Riane Woods and Rachel Tatusko both recorded three saves.
“Tatusko played well and responded very well,” Wright said. “She had a great game with some great steals and blocks.”
Though Long Beach State won the game, the momentum was with the Aggies in the final frame.
“I really felt that if we had two or three more minutes we’d tie it or win it,” Wright said. “[The 49ers] were really pooped and running out of gas. I felt our conditioning is better.”
Sunday – UC Davis 10, UC San Diego 9
Wright almost knew what the game against UC San Diego would be like.
“Every game against [the Tritons] is a close game no matter what,” Wright said. “Every time we play them, no matter who has a better record, it’s close.”
Like their game against Long Beach State, the Aggies found themselves trailing at the half.
Unlike the game against the 49ers, UC Davis would finish the comeback.
UC Davis scored four goals in the third quarter to cut the Triton lead to one.
In the fourth period, Ashley Chandler knotted the game at eight in the final frame. Chandler’s defense and endurance was critical to the victory.
“[Chandler and Heidi Kucera] were tired after winning the [Mountain Pacific Sports Federation] Championships [in swimming],” Wright said. “But they still played and did great. Chandler’s defense, length, strength and speed were really key. She was a big presence and a huge factor in the win.”
One minute after Chandler’s game-tying goal, Mohr would put the Aggies ahead with 4:52 to go. Though the Tritons evened the score later in the quarter, UC Davis closed out the game with a goal from Feeney.
UC Davis returns home to host the Aggie Shootout, starting at Friday at 10:30 a.m.
MATT WANG can be reached at email@example.com.