Entering Big West Conference play, the UC Davis women’s water polo team was confident.
The Aggies had played the best team in the nation – Stanford – to a 12-6 loss. Despite the defeat, coach Jamey Wright felt his squad was entering conference play hot.
“I’m glad we’re going into conference having played Stanford,” Wright said. Had we not played them, I would be a little more nervous. I feel better going into this week of practice having played that game.”
Unfortunately for the Aggies, the good vibes from the Stanford game were lost after dropping their first two Big West Conference matches.
With the two losses, UC Davis slips to 16-9 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Saturday – No. 17 Cal State Northridge 14, No. 15 UC Davis 13
Sometimes it’s about how you start and not how you finish.
This was the case for the Aggies in their Saturday loss to the Matadors to open up conference play.
Cal State Northridge jumped out to a quick 4-2 lead in the opening period, and despite a valiant comeback attempt by UC Davis in the fourth, the Aggies fell by one goal.
Sophomore Carmen Eggert netted a game-high five goals, including three in the Aggies’ second half comeback.
Besides Eggert’s scoring effort, juniors Alicia Began, Ariel Feeney and Kaylee Miller each added two goals. Sophomore Jessica Dunn added a score of her own.
Wright said that Eggert and Dunn could both be dangerous in open-court situations.
Despite the sluggish start, UC Davis managed to tie the score at six entering halftime. The Aggies came out of the break cold, however, falling into a three-goal hole after the third. Despite a flurry of fourth-quarter goals highlighted by its strong 6-on-5 play, UC Davis was unable to complete the comeback.
Sunday – No. 14 UC Santa Barbara 9, UC Davis 5
In a game that saw no one on either side score multiple goals, it was the Gauchos who had more names on the scorecard.
Similar to the Cal State Northridge game, USCB jumped out to a commanding lead in the opening quarter. After eight minutes of play, the Gauchos held a 5-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
UC Davis closed the gap to two on three separate occasions, but the Gauchos managed to bump their lead back to three on the subsequent possession.
Dunn, Eggert, Began, junior Carey Faber and senior Rachelle Smith each found the back of the net for the Aggies.
One of the positives from the match was UC Davis’ 6-on-5 play. Four of five of its goals came as a result of UCSB exclusions, something Wright wanted to work on for the weekend.
“Our goal for the weekend was to work on a 6-on-5 alignment where we shift from a 3-3 to a 4-2,” Wright said. “If you can start in a 3-3 and shift to a 4-2, you can catch teams out of position.”
UC Davis will attempt to get to its first win in Big West play this weekend when it hosts UC Irvine on Saturday at noon. The Aggies’ next three games will all be at home.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at email@example.com.