It wasn’t the return home the Aggies would have hoped for.
No. 10 UC Davis had a tough weekend, losing to No. 6 Pacific for the second time this year and conference rival No. 18 Santa Clara.
Slow starts and penalties did the Aggies in, as the team never had a lead in either game.
The Aggies, who have lost three in a row for the first time this season, now enter the final month of play with plenty of work ahead if they are to advance to the Western Water Polo Association Championship.
With the losses, UC Davis moves to 16-7 on the year – 10-2 in WWPA play.
Friday – No. 6 Pacific 10, No. 10 UC Davis 5
UC Davis lost for the second time this season to non-conference opponent Pacific before a capacity crowd at Schaal Aquatics Center.
The Aggies got down early, and could not mount a comeback against a tough Pacific squad.
“We need to come out with a lot more intensity and desire,” said assistant coach Tom Kurth. “We can’t come out here and just expect that we are going to play well.”
Pacific jumped out to an early one-goal lead, scoring 45 seconds into the contest. The Aggies trailed 6-3 at halftime and 8-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Three exclusions led to three man-advantage goals for the Tigers.
Five different players tallied a goal for the Aggies in the defeat. Despite the loss, UC Davis head coach Steve Doten was proud of the team’s efforts.
“The guys swam hard,” he said. “You could tell by the white water on the counter-attack. I’m happy with how hard these guys played. If they do that every game, I’ll be happy.”
Sunday – No. 18 Santa Clara 9, UC Davis 6
UC Davis tried to bounce back against conference opponent Santa Clara, but the early struggles led to another tough loss.
Santa Clara scored just one of its goals at even strength. The Broncos scored three five-meter penalty shots and two man-advantage goals in the first half alone. All three of their second half goals came after an Aggie exclusion.
“The focus isn’t there at the start of the games,” Kurth said. “Against a team like Santa Clara, if you’re not focused, if you’re not executing, they’ll beat you, and that’s exactly what happened today.”
UC Davis shot a paltry 3-for-17 in the first half, and the struggles continued in the third quarter as the Aggies shot just 1-for-7.
Seniors Aaron Salit and Luke Collins scored two goals apiece for the Aggies, but the comeback was too little, too late.
UC Davis will take a weekend off from official competition, hosting an Alumni Game on Saturday.
“In the next two weeks, I want us to focus on what makes us a good team. Everyone has to do their role, and dedicate themselves for the next month, because that’s potentially all that is left in our season,” Kurth said. “We need to buckle down and realize we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and can’t go easy the next two weeks because we don’t have any games, and iron out these small details.”
The Aggies return to action on Oct. 22 with a two-day, four-game tournament at Santa Clara.
RUSSELL EISENMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.