Teams: UC Davis vs. Cal State Monterey Bay; Pacific
Records: Aggies 12-15, (0-6); Otters 8-19, (2-5), Tigers 16-11, (1-4)
Where: The “Otter” Tank — Seaside, Calif.; Schaal Aquatics Center — Davis, Calif.
When: Friday at 2 p.m.; Saturday at noon.
Who to watch: Senior Kathryn Bailey recently returned to the Aggie lineup and she has wasted no time making a splash. During last week’s contest against first-ranked Hawai’i, Bailey tallied three goals for UC Davis.
UC Davis ended up losing the 12-14 shootout against the Wahine, but it was a phenomenal effort from the eighth-ranked Aggies. Having Bailey back in the pool gives the Aggie offense another necessary threat. With UC Davis standing 0-6 in conference, the Aggies need to find a way to win quickly.
Did you know? Seniors Carmen Eggert and Jessica Dunn have combined to score 32 of the Aggies’ 60 conference goals this year. They both also contributed hat tricks against Hawai’i last week.
Preview: UC Davis seems to be constantly on the verge of winning. Their six losses have come by a total margin of eight goals. However, this week they get a chance to snap their losing streak against Cal State Monterey Bay.
The Otters will also be looking to snap their own losing streak and will pose a threat to the Aggie defense. Led by senior Jackie Walters’ 62 goals, the Otter offense has combined for 233 goals this season. UC Davis’ goalkeeper, Riane Woods, is maintaining a .498 save percentage, so this game could be a chance for the Aggies to find a way to earn a close win over an opponent.
Head coach Jamey Wright is looking forward to the opportunity for his team to play a low pressure game. They can use the minutes to work on some areas they have been struggling in. The Otters will also present the team with a few different looks, which will force them to adapt.
“The positives are that we get a game when we need it. This was a late add to our schedule. We originally had a weekend off between Hawai’i and Pacific, which I didn’t like. Monterey Bay isn’t too far and it’s kind of an interesting place. The negative is that their pool isn’t regulation. It is not as long nor as wide as regulation’s,” Wright said. “Number two, they play that funky two-goalie defense which nobody else does. So we’ll practice for something we won’t see at conference. At their pool, everything is so close they can get into that defense.”
After Friday’s matchup against the Otters, the Aggies will host conference rival Pacific. The Tigers are ranked seventh in conference, and the Aggies won the previous matchup during February’s Davis Challenge.
In their last game against Pacific, UC Davis earned a 12-5 win over the Tigers. Sophomore Keelia Houston led the Aggie offense with four goals in the game. Woods also tallied 10 saves during the match, which allowed the Aggies to pull away with a large advantage.
It seems like UC Davis is playing great water polo in patches. Their offensive effort against Hawai’i was incredible, but their defense was lacking and it cost them the game.
Wright acknowledged the gaps in play, but he is proud of his team’s continued work effort.
“The good news is that we scored 12 against a good team. If we played the defense we had against Irvine and that kind of offense, we could have beaten Hawai’i by two or three goals. Strangely, and it’s very refreshing, the team remains optimistic and upbeat. They understand how well they have played in these games to put themselves in a position to win. They know they have to get better, but they are small things we already know,” Wright said. “I felt better after the Long Beach/Irvine weekend because we were right there. Hawai’i was a step back but I like that we were resilient. We came back. In a lot of ways, it made me optimistic from an offensive standpoint.”
— Kim Carr