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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Aggies dominate Lancers in conference opener

IAN JONES / AGGIE

Men’s water polo defeats Cal Baptist University Lancers in its opening conference match 12-9

It was a beautiful day at Schaal Aquatics Center on Thursday, Sept. 14 as the UC Davis Aggies opened up their first Western Water Polo Association conference game of the year against the Cal Baptist University Lancers. The No. 9 NCAA ranked Aggies were coming into this first game on a high from last season after having been crowned WWPA Champions for the first time since 1997. Going along with their 6-0 undefeated conference, their 23 wins in the 2016 season also broke the school record for the most single season wins. Though losing the play-in game for the NCAA championships to Harvard was tough for the team, UC Davis proved that it was a force to be reckoned with in the water, and came into Thursday wanting to continue to prove that for the new season.

IAN JONES / AGGIE

Once the Aggies won the initial position in the start of the first period, it seemed to be a solely a back-and-forth possession game, until the Lancers struck first with a goal at 4:30. Cal Baptist continued to add to its lead with another goal at the five-meter mark (3:39). The two early goals did not dishearten the Aggies, however, as senior center Morgan Olson-Fabbro put one in the back of the net at the three-meter mark (1:43), ending the period with a score of 2-1.

The Aggies struck early in the second, starting with an even-strength goal from junior utility Riley Venne at 6:25. Cal Baptist responded quickly, putting one in the net at the two-meter mark (5:33), bringing the score to 3-2. With just 56 seconds left until the half, senior utility Cory Laidig struck the net for UC Davis, tying the game up at three a piece going into the half.

Junior attacker Colter Knight opened up the scoring early in the third for the Aggies at the two-meter mark to take the 4-3 lead (7:12). However, the lead became short-lived, with the Lancers responding with a goal of their own at 6:57. The goals did not stop, as freshman attacker Jack Stafford added one to the Aggies’ score at 6:31 to retake the lead 5-4. Cal Baptist continued to find ways of equalizing, tieing the game up at the two-meter mark (5:48). Shortly after, in a time period of 15 seconds, Fabbro continued to lead the Aggie offense, pulling of an impressive behind-the-back shot (4:33), along with a goal from senior attacker Spencer Galli (4:15). The Lancers shortened the two goal lead to 7-6 at 3:57 with a goal around the four-meter mark. Venne earned his second goal at 2:45, increasing the Aggie lead to 8-6. UC Davis capped the goal-scoring period with another from Fabbro, his third, at 0:13, ending the action-filled period with a 9-6 Aggie lead.

“We really focused on our defense at first,” Fabbro said. “We know that those last couple quarters that when is you have to start to bring it home and that momentum pushes us forward.”

IAN JONES / AGGIE

Opening the fourth period, freshman utility Joseph Gomez continued to add points to the Aggies lead, scoring a powerplay goal at 7:33. Venne also earned a hat trick, putting his third in the back of the net at 4:52 to lengthen the lead 11-6 for UC Davis. Shortly after, Fabbro showed no mercy, and pounded his fourth goal into the back of the net to give the Aggies the 12-6 lead (4:17). After five unanswered goals, Cal Baptist was finally able to find the back of the net for the first time in the fourth, bringing the score to 12-7.  The Lancers were able to manage two more goals at 0:21 and 0:09, but the early lead built by the Aggies proved to be too much for Cal Baptist, and UC Davis took the 12-9 win.

“I think overall we did fairly well,” said head coach Daniel Leyson. “Defensively I think we did well, but we let the game get away from us in the

end. Our 6-on-5 [offense] was abhorrent and we lost concentration at the end. Overall ok, but still a long ways to go.”

As far as what the team seeks to accomplish next season, Leyson still adheres to the same three goals every season.

“We want to be in the WWPA championship game and win it, we want to be higher than top 10 in the country, and want our team G.P.A to be above 3.0,” Leyson said.

Not only was the weekend the conference opening for the Aggies, but the Aggie Roundup Tournament as well. In its remaining games, UC Davis lost 10-8 in overtime to Long Beach State, and won its last two 7-5 and 16-3 against Pepperdine and Redlands respectively. The team is 7-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play this season.

 

Written by: Ryan Bugsch —  sports@theaggie.org

 

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