The Aggies fight hard Saturday to earn a 10-9 win over Pepperdine University
The overcast weather last Saturday afternoon at Schaal Aquatics Center did not foreshadow the UC Davis men’s water polo performance, as an intense and hard-fought non-conference game allowed the Aggies to come out victorious over the Pepperdine University Waves, 10-9. Leading up to this game, UC Davis and Pepperdine were both tied for the No. 8 spot by the NCAA Men’s Water Polo Rankings, and the win moved the Aggies to an overall record of 19-4 on the year.
Freshman center Eric Martel and attacker Yurii Hanley, sophomores utility Sasa Antunovic and utility Nick Coufal and juniors attacker Cory Laidig and utility Morgan Olson-Fabbro all found the back of the net to contribute to the UC Davis win. Junior goalkeeper Spencer Creed also came out strong in the match, saving eight of the 14 Pepperdine shots in the first half.
Martel scored the first goal for the Aggies in the first set to give the team a 1-1 tie after the first period. Antunovic and sophomore attacker Marcus Anderson would each score in the second period of play to give the Aggies the lead at 6:44, but the Waves scored three unanswered goals to take the 4-3 lead at halftime.
“We didn’t talk about how many goals we were down,” head coach Daniel Leyson said. “We just talked about what we needed to do and tried to stay focus and calm. [The team] really responded well and battled back a couple times which was really great.”
Laidig scored in the third period to tie the game at 4-4. By the 3:38 mark in this period, Pepperdine scored two more goals to take a 6-4 lead. Coufal found the back of the net for the Aggies, and with Hanley not far behind, they were soon tied at 6-6. Pepperdine made a penalty shot with 2:06 left in the third, and sophomore attacker Ido Goldschmidt equalized for the Aggies with just seconds left in the third period, tying the game at 7-7.
At the start of the fourth period, Anderson added another goal to his name, but Pepperdine quickly countered with its own to tie the game at 8-8. Olson-Fabbro
scored his first goal of the game for the Aggies to give them the lead, but the back and forth scoring continued as the Waves tied the game once more, at 9-9.
With 2:45 left in the game, Goldschmidt scored a high goal to give the Aggies a 10-9 lead. Pepperdine received a possession with 13 seconds left, but the defense from UC Davis prevented any chance of a goal, and the Aggie came away with a win.
“I think if you emerge victorious in such a hard fought battle against a team that has beaten us before, it is a great testament to how hard these guys are
working and that can give us more confidence moving forward,” Leyson said.
Saturday’s win was against the highest ranked opponent the Aggies have beaten since the opening weekend of the 2015 season.
The UC Davis men’s water polo team finishes its conference play this week with two home games, one against Loyola Marymount Thursday at 6 p.m., and the other against UC San Diego Saturday at 12 p.m.
“We are going to try to get better one step at a time,” Leyson said. “We know that LMU and San Diego are huge conference rivals and they always give us their best performance. They are gonna come in here and give us a very tough game, so we need to be on top of our game and prepared for tough battles.”
Written by: Ryan Bugsch — firstname.lastname@example.org