Event: No. 9 UC Davis vs. UC Irvine; vs. TBD
Teams: Aggies 14-3; Anteaters 8-5
Where: Campus pool – Long Beach, Calif.
When: Saturday at 9:20 a.m.; TBD
Who to watch: Junior Matt Vowell has made his living feeding the ball to his teammates this season. The Lincoln, Calif. native has notched a team-high 20 assists so far this season and has played in 16 of the Aggies’ 17 games. Vowell has also been a solid at putting the ball in the net, scoring seven goals and tallying his first career hat-trick at the Aggie Shootout last weekend.
Did you know? No. 9 UC Davis has gone 14-1 since dropping their first two games of the year to No. 3 California and No. 6 Pacific. That period has included nine-straight wins with none of them coming by fewer than three goals.
Preview: One of the biggest challenges for UC Davis as they enter a weekend of tough games will be their physical fitness. Coming off six matches in a three-day span this past week, coach Steve Doten knows he has to be careful when it come to how hard he works his players this week.
“I’m walking a fine line,” he said. “I’m trying to get them in good shape while at the same time making sure they’re healthy and at full strength.”
The team’s condition could be of extra importance at the SoCal Invitational this weekend as UC Davis has a lot at stake. As the Aggies take to the pool on Saturday they will be playing for more than just their record – they will be playing for a chance to move up in the national rankings.
Ninth-ranked UC Davis will start their weekend with a matchup against No. 8 UC Irvine and could follow that up by facing No. 1 USC. With a few wins in those big games, the Aggies would have a chance to move into the top-five.
While UC Davis has been very successful over the last several weeks, it has not faced a team of top-10 quality since the first week of the season.
Still, Doten is not phased by the opponents ahead.
“Water polo is water polo,” he said. “We’ll run the same offense and the same defense we’ve run all year. The only difference is that the teams we face will be bigger, stronger and better. We just need to execute at a higher level.”