Fired-up second half gives Aggies a victory
The last time the Aggies faced off against the Santa Clara Broncos, tempers flared and fists flew. Although the game held on Saturday had less physicality involved, it was in no way less action-packed.
Play started off under a cloudy sky, and a light drizzle rained down upon the Schaal Aquatics Center as the Aggies headed into the rematch.
“I sort of thought of it as; ‘alright, here comes the rain, here comes the thunder, let’s go’,” senior utility Sean Grab said.
Two early kickouts and an unrelenting offense against the Aggies put the Broncos up on the board.
Even though a cohesive Bronco defense stifled a few plays, redshirt freshman Riley “Walley” Venne put up the Aggie’s first goal, and the first quarter ended with the Aggies down, 1-3.
After winning the sprint, the Broncos made a blazing drive that resulted in a goal no less than nine seconds into the period as Santa Clara continued the momentum it had created during the first period.
The Aggies did not let this drag them down, as freshman utility Sasa Antunovic hammered in the second of the team’s goals. The Broncos retorted with a goal of their own, prompting Venne to add another goal of his own.
Grab was able to make an excellent outside steal and fed the ball to Antunovic, who swiftly joined Venne with two goals a piece.
As the half wound down, Grab took a shot from seven meters out that blasted down into the lower left corner. He didn’t stop there, and shortly drew a kickout from the opposing team. Antunovic converted this power play into a goal for the Aggies to close out the half with Santa Clara in the lead, 7-6.
“Over the course of the season, we’ve just struggled with the first quarter and first half,” Venne said. “We’re used to things going not our way in the first period. It’s just important to keep our heads on and not let the momentum take effect.”
Half-time was when the game changed.
“[During the halftime talk with the team] I wanted to convey to them that we are not really playing the type of game that we want to play,” Head Coach Daniel Leyson said. “I feel like we’re falling into the type of game that the opponent wants to play.”
The UC Davis men’s water polo team took this to heart. Holding the Broncos to one goal during the third period, the Aggies responded with a very powerful rally. Venne and Antunovic each scored once more, and freshman attacker Ido Goldschmidt, junior utility Lyle Kipp and senior two-meter set Wes Lincoln added goals to their names.
The key to this third period momentum shift was a big defensive play by Antunovic. In a huge field block, Antunovic effortlessly swiped the ball out of the Bronco player who caught the rebounded deflection, preventing the Broncos from finding their player wide open on the other side of the goal.
“I like steals the most. If I need to choose between assists, goals and steals, I choose steals every time,” Antunovic said. “They are a boost for me, for the team, for everyone.”
A boost it certainly was.
The Aggies extended their run into the fourth period going on a nine to one point run before the Broncos put another point on the board. Lincoln and Antunovic added another goal to each of their names while Grab secured two more for himself.
Undefeated in league play, the Aggies closed out the game with a victory of 15-10, bringing them to a 10-6 overall record.
“Teams are out to get us, so every team is going to come out hard,” Grab said.
UC Davis men’s water polo played in a non-league match against Concordia last Sunday, and will head down to Santa Clara for the two-day Rodeo Tournament starting Oct. 24.