UC Davis women’s water polo team beats University of Pacific Tigers 13-12 in sudden victory
With almost all of the stands packed with people at the Schaal Aquatic Center on March 3, the UC Davis women’s water polo team beat the University of Pacific Tigers 13-12 in a sudden triple overtime victory. Coming into the game, the Aggies possessed a 13-7 overall record, a 3-1 home record and were ranked No.13 by the NCAA. Their opponents, the No. 7 ranked Tigers had a 7-4 overall record coming into the game.
“It was an exciting win and we put in all the work,” head coach Jamey Wright said. “It is really exhilarating as a coach to see a group of people put in the work all week and then executing it. It was really awesome to see that.”
The first period seemed to be an acclimation of the match period for the Aggies, as Pacific put four goals in the back of the net at 7:28, 4:19, 3:10, and on a powerplay goal with 0:14 left in the period. UC Davis’ junior defender McKenna Hauss earned herself a goal on a powerplay opportunity at 0:51 in the period, brining the ending of the first period to a 4-1 Aggie deficit.
The beauty of water polo is that it is always anyone’s game due to the physicality of the sport, and with continual hard work, a team can take the lead. This was true for the Aggies in the second period, with senior center Greta Kohlmoos putting two goals in the back of the net at 6:33 and 5:59, beating her opponent with pure physicality and strength in front of the net. Senior attacker Sammy Preston was soon to follow for UC Davis with a goal at 5:29 to bring the score to an even 4-4. One more goal for the Tigers at 5:13 and Hauss for the Aggies at 0:08 ended the second period with the match all tied at 5-5.
In a neck-and-neck game in the third period, Pacific and UC Davis began to exchange goals rapidly, the Tigers scoring at 7:00, 5:12 and 3:53. Senior utility Paige Virgil earned a goal at 5:36 and sophomore attacker Kathleen Schafle earned her hat trick in one period for the Aggies at 4:47, 3:33 and 1:54 respectively to give UC Davis the 9-8 lead. Pacific soon capitalized on an even-strength goal at 1:34 to tie the game at nine. Neither team could score another goal in the third, keeping the game tied into the fourth.
“I think [my shots] were very low percentage and you shouldn’t necessarily shoot them,” Schafle said about what contributed to her goals on the day. “Because my teammates were helping distract the goalie and helping take my player away from me I think it was the movement of the team [that helped].”
The first half of the fourth was a draw, both teams not able to score a goal and constantly swimming back-and-forth with change of possession. At 4:49, however, Virgil was able to score an even strength goal in an impressive swimming performance to gain one-on-one position with the opposing goalie. Pacific responded right away, finishing a goal at 4:33 to tie the game yet again at 10. With the chance to win the game with 30 seconds left in the match, the Aggies held the ball until 15 seconds left to run a play they felt would get them the win, showing the strategic aspect to water polo along with the physicality, something that might not be thought of as much with the sport. A shot by Virgil hit the crossbar and bounced right on the goal line, forcing a no goal call and pushing the match into two three minute overtime periods.
On a bouncing ball at 2:38, the Tigers quickly took the 11-10 overtime lead. Even though the match was in overtime, that did not affect the back-and-forth play on both sides, Schafle putting her fourth goal in the back of the net at 2:10 to tie the game. The goals kept rolling for the Aggies, Virgil earning her hat trick at the 1:35 mark to give the team the one goal lead. With just six seconds left in the period, however, Pacific capitalized on the wing for the 12-12 tie after the first overtime period.
The second overtime period proved to be missed shots and saved goals, and neither team could put a point on the board, moving into sudden victory (death) overtime. In this sudden victory period, the teams play three minute periods until a goal is scored. First team to score is the victor.
On an amazing one-handed save from Aggie sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Golding, the Tiger’s initial possession was stopped. It was at 1:48 in the seventh period when junior utility Emily Byrne placed a right lower shot in the back of the net, ending the game and giving the Aggies the 13-12 win.
After the nail-biting win, UC Davis is hungry to face its conference opponents in a week and a half, particularly Kohlmoos, who wants to make her last year at Davis her best after playing water polo for six years.
“I am super excited and ready to face good conference opponents,” Kohlmoos said. “Our conference is one of the most competitive, our team is ready and fired up and this being my last year, I want to go out with a bang so I want to make the most of every last second I have in the pool.”
UC Davis is now 14-7 overall and will finish its non conference play tomorrow, March 9 against Azusa Pacific University home at Schaal Aquatic Center.
“It is impressive for any group to be down 4-1 and come back,” Wright said. “It would have been easy to roll over at that point but they keep battling so it was a lot of character and a lot of heart, which was good to see.”
Written by: Ryan Bugsch — firstname.lastname@example.org