UC Davis splits the four weekend games
Ten teams converged at the Schaal Aquatics Center for the three-day Aggie Roundup men’s water polo tournament this past weekend. Fresh off a win against Cal Baptist, the men’s water polo team headed into the Roundup with its first game of the tournament on Saturday, Sept. 26 against Diablo Valley College.
“Our focus is on defense and all aspects of defense: front court defense, 5-on-6 defense and our counter attack defense,” Head Coach Daniel Leyson said of the team’s practices leading up to the games. “We believe that that is the best way that we can be most successful.”
UC Davis 18, Diablo Valley 8
During their first game, the Aggies showed off this focus on defense. After stopping a harrowing four-on-six power play in the final seconds of the first quarter, the Aggies were able to leverage their own power plays in the second quarter to string together a series of goals.
A penalty shot scored by junior utility Lyle Kipp highlighted the second period, while Diablo’s Aldric Terral fouled out in the third period. Sophomore goalkeepers Spencer Creed and Jake Becker both had key power-play saves, blocking four and two shots, respectively.
Stanford 18, UC Davis 6
The Aggies’ second game pitted them against the ever-strong men’s Stanford team, currently ranked second in the country. After two incredible one-on-nobody saves by Creed in the first quarter, the Aggies’ defense faltered and Stanford took an early lead. The Cardinal were then able to outshoot the Aggies and close out the game.
Pacific 15, UC Davis 4
The loss from the previous day flowed in the Aggies’ wake as they moved into Sunday morning. The Aggies faced off against the University of the Pacific. Although they were down 10-0 at the half, UC Davis rallied back together and continued fighting.
Not once did the Aggies throw in the towel, with international first-year Sasa Antunovic and redshirt first-year Riley “Walley” Venne scoring key goals in the third quarter. However, Pacific’s early lead was too much for the Aggies to come back from.
UC Davis 15, Santa Clara 11
For their final match of the Roundup, the Aggies were up against Santa Clara University, a game in which a quick goal in the first 27 seconds of play by sophomore utility Cory Laidig brought them to an early lead. A string of ejections on both sides of the pool quickly evened the scores such that the first period ended 2-2.
A neck-and-neck second quarter went by with a stream of ejections for both teams as they battled for possession of the ball. As the minutes wound down, an actual fight broke out between UC Davis’ Lyle Kipp and Santa Clara’s Garrat Johnson, and the two players were rolled from the game. That would not be the end of the fights, as a mere nine seconds of play lasted before fans saw the departure of UC Davis’ Sasa Antunovic and Santa Clara’s Owen Asalone. This led to a 4-on-3 play for the Aggies, which they quickly converted into a goal.
International first-year Ido Goldschmidt shined during the third quarter, when he earned himself a hat trick and increased his total goals scored to four.
The final quarter saw Santa Clara bring in four goals, but the Broncos’ momentum was stopped with two goals from junior Jacob Ley and an Aggie defense that was firing on all cylinders. The tight play from the team as a whole brought UC Davis the victory.
“We are really trying to work on how well we interact with each other,” Leyson said. “How well we communicate with each other, how well we understand each other’s movements, how well we play together.”
If this weekend is any indication, the Aggies are doing just that, and will be a major force moving on into their season. Exiting the tournament with two wins and losses brings their overall record to 9-6.
The team’s next game will be away, where they face Air Force on the morning of Oct. 3.