Before the break, women’s water polo coach Jamey Wright was worried about his team losing some of its conditioning and endurance over the course of finals and spring break.
Wright’s concerns were silenced as the Aggies played six games in eight days, starting with a win over George Washington and culminating in a 12-6 loss to top-ranked Stanford.
The Aggies are now 16-7 for the year and begin conference play against Cal State Northridge on Saturday.
Sunday, March 20 – No. 15 UC Davis 17, George Washington 8
UC Davis put up goals early and often.
Paced by Carmen Eggert’s three goals and Heidi Kucera’s two, the Aggies held a big 9-2 lead heading into the second half.
After missing a significant part of the season due to her commitment to the swimming and diving team, Kucera is slowly being worked back into water polo rotations.
“[Kucera] is starting to feel a little more comfortable in what she’s doing,” said Wright. “She’s getting a lot of goals [in transition], and has been using her speed to her advantage.”
Wright hopes Kucera will bolster UC Davis’ chances for a Big West Conference title.
“She has a real opportunity to help us during these conference games coming up,” she said.
Kucera also set up one of center Alicia Began’s two goals.
UC Davis hopes to see more out of Kucera but especially Began, as UC Davis’ center corps has been hit by injury.
“The last half dozen games, Began has come up and shown that she’s able to hit some shots,” said Wright. “It’s nice to have some scoring punch down there.
Saturday, March 26 – UC Davis 17, Cal State Bakersfield, 8
UC Davis played a different team, but got the same result.
Dunn, Eggert, Michelle Hook and Carey Faber added two goals apiece, with freshman Becca Smith adding a hat trick to power the Aggies over the Roadrunners.
The Aggies jumped on Cal State Bakersfield early, posting a 4-1 lead in the first frame and a 9-3 halftime lead.
Rachel Tatusko and Riane Woods split time in the cage, garnering five and four saves, respectively. Tatusko also recorded three assists against CSU Bakersfield.
“We had one or two goals come from eight or nine different people,” Wright said. “I’m really seeing balance and our younger players [Smith and Hannah Curran] are starting to contribute.”
Sunday, March 27 – No. 1 Stanford 12, UC Davis 6
Unfortunately for the Aggies, all of the offensive successes seemed to have vanished against the Cardinal.
“Until we played Stanford, we saw great improvement,” Wright said. “We were at a high rate of play [against our earlier opponents] shooting our 6-on-5 probably at 75 percent. We then went through a buzz saw and went zero for 10.”
UC Davis was hard pressed to find stops, resulting in a 9-2 halftime lead for Stanford.
“[Against earlier opponents], we were able to use speed to our advantage,” Wright said. “But that’s kind of what Stanford was doing to us. We dug ourselves into such a deep hole, it really didn’t matter.”
The trio of Dunn, Eggert and Began continued their successes, each scoring two goals in the game.
But the lack of power play shooting ultimately derailed UC Davis’ plan for a comeback.
“I think it’s a case of two steps forward, one step backwards,” Wright said. “I think we’ve made some progress, but it didn’t show itself today.”
The Aggies travel to Northridge on Saturday and Santa Barbara on Sunday to matchup against the Gauchos.
MATT WANG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.