Ranked fourteenth in the nation and second in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) standings, the UC Davis men’s water polo team traveled down to Los Angeles this weekend to compete for the much anticipated WWPA championship title. After falling short of the title last year in the championship game against UC San Diego, the Aggies geared up with a relentless schedule, playing 23 games against top-20 teams within three months, and almost 60 total games between their summer and 2014 season.
“It’s all coming down to this weekend,” said head coach Daniel Leyson, prior to the tournament. “We’ve played more games than most teams in the country. So we’re supposed to use all of this experience to build and put it all together at the end where it really matters.”
Looking for their first championship title in 17 years, UC Davis entered the tournament with glimmers of hope after solid wins against Fresno Pacific and Santa Clara University in the preceding weeks.
Heavy training and a brief winning streak could not prepare the Aggies for a strenuous semifinal, however, as No. 17 Loyola Marymount, host of the tournament, gave the Aggies trouble all afternoon.
Despite a 5-4 lead in the first with goals from freshman Spencer Galli, sophomore Lyle Kipp, and seniors Teddy Nicholson and Michael Wright, and WWPA player of the week, senior Chris Richardson, the Aggies could not keep up with LMU in the second. LMU outscored the Aggies 4-1 in the third quarter and withheld all efforts from the Aggies until the fourth. The Aggies lost 11-9 in this semifinal game.
A chance at the WWPA third place title brought the Aggies to an explosive final performance during Sunday’s consolation game against California Baptist. With hat tricks from senior Teddy Nicholson and junior Sean Grab, the Aggies pulled away from Cal Baptist in the second, and landed a 17-10 win against the RV team. UC Davis officially ended the season on Sunday, with the third place WWPA title.
LMU advanced to the championship final to face sixth ranked, and tournament favorite, UCSD on Sunday. Despite enthusiastic efforts from the host team, UCSD cruised to first place for the third time in three years, defeating LMU 12-6. UCSD once again received an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in December.