It took them a little while, but the Aggies finally got a win against a Big West Conference opponent.
After losing close games against ranked opponents Cal State Northridge, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine, the UC Davis women’s water polo team finally bested No. 13 Long Beach State to earn a conference win.
The victory over the 49ers ended a four-game skid where UC Davis fell from No. 15 to No. 17 on the College Water Polo Association rankings.
With the win, the Aggies are now 17-10 with a 1-3 record in conference play.
Saturday – No. 10 UC Irvine 9, No. 17 UC Davis 7
Against the Anteaters, UC Davis again fell into an early hole after giving up four goals in the first frame.
The deficit would haunt the Aggies for the rest of the game.
Carmen Eggert led all scorers with four goals, and Dakotah Mohr, Jessica Dunn and Alicia Began each chipped in one.
UC Davis never had a lead despite cutting the UC Irvine advantage to one multiple times.
One bright spot for the Aggies was their offensive play during 6-on-5 situations. They converted five goals on 10 power plays, a much higher rate than in games past.
“We’re just continuing to improve our 6-on-5,” said coach Jamey Wright. “We were 50% against Irvine, and it’s better – so that’s encouraging. We could still do a little better.”
Sophomore goalie Riane Woods spent the entire game inside the cage, tallying eight saves.
Sunday – UC Davis 9, No. 13 Long Beach State 7 (OT)
Before the game on Sunday, Wright told his players they needed to make adjustments in order to beat the 49ers.
“[Long Beach State] is a very similar team to Irvine,” Wright said. “If we were going to play the same way, we would get creamed.”
Wright noted the Aggies played a complete game, something they lacked early in the year.
“We started well, and then we finished well,” Wright said. “We’ve had games where we’ve started poorly and finished well, and games where we started well and finished poorly. We had a little lull that almost killed us, but it was [good overall].”
UC Davis surrendered just two goals in the first half and clamped down in the last minutes of regulation as well as overtime, but a third quarter Long Beach State surge made things interesting.
With the Aggies holding a 5-2 lead to start the third period, the 49ers fired three straight goals to tie the game.
The 49ers would continue to convert shots and took a one-goal lead in the middle of the fourth frame.
Ariel Feeney would eventually tie the match with just over a minute left, and the Aggies made sure that Long Beach State didn’t get any good shots as regulation ended.
Eggert continued her hot streak, scoring two of her three goals in overtime, pacing UC Davis to its first conference victory of the season.
“[Eggert] scores her goals because she’s really good,” Wright said. “I think she is the best player in the conference in terms of being a pure attacker with athletic ability to move around the pool and get into the air.”
Wright also noted that getting the conference win made the victory even sweeter.
“It felt great,” said Wright. “[All conference opponents] are ranked between 10th and 20th. Beyond winning, it just felt good.”
UC Davis seniors will suit up for their last game at Schaal Aquatic Center as the Aggies host Pacific on Saturday at noon.
MATT WANG can be reached at email@example.com.