Aggies end season with a win

QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE

Men’s water polo defeats Pacific 12-7 as six seniors are honored

In front of a large crowd, the No. 10 nationally ranked UC Davis Aggies defeated the No. 7 ranked Pacific Tigers 12-7 in a non-conference match on Sunday, Nov. 11. This marked the conclusion of the Aggies 2018-19 regular season, as UC Davis took down a high level opponent before the start of the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) tournament on Nov. 16.

“I just think that the level of energy they brought today was so fun to watch,” Child and Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo Daniel Leyson said. “We have been talking a lot, and it’s just awesome to see how hard they played and how well they played together especially for the seniors in their last home game.”

This game not only served as a test before the WWPA tournament, but was where six graduating UC Davis seniors were honored, playing their last home regular season match. Among those seniors are attackers Marcus Anderson and Colter Knight, utility players Nick Coufal, Ido Goldschmidt and Riley Venne, as well as goalkeeper R.J. Quigley.

“For the first time ever we have six seniors on one of my teams and these guys all have their own individual stories that are special,” Leyson said. “Overall, what they have represented is the ascension of our program. They have been with us when we haven’t won conference and when we have and they have helped our program to come along in ways that are just really special. They are just quality people.”

After they won the sprint to begin the first period, it took the Aggies a few minutes to speed up their play. Both teams drew six shots a piece ending the first, but it was UC Davis that capitalized on two late goals. The first came with 2:20 left in the period by sophomore attacker Jack Stafford and the second was scored by Knight with 1:00 remaining, giving the Aggies an early two goal lead to end the first.

Continuing their momentum and winning the second period sprint, an early penalty shot from freshman center Nir Gross increased the Aggie’s lead. The Tigers then began slow down their play enough for junior center Eric Martel to throw another one in the back of the net for UC Davis’ fourth unanswered goal.

With 2:10 remaining in the half, Pacific converted its own penalty shot on an Aggie exclusion, decreasing the lead to three. Just over a minute later, a save by Quigley allowed for junior attacker Yurii Hanley to deliver a pass from the two meter line across the pool to a waiting Anderson, who easily slid the ball past the keeper, ending the half with a 5-1 Aggie lead.

Going three-for-three on sprints, the Aggies continued to prove why they are consistently a nationally ranked team. Junior attacker Holden Tamblyn drove a bullet from five meters out into the top right corner of the net to open the third period. Soon after, though, the Tigers responded with two of their own even strength goals, which cut the UC Davis lead to 6-3. The remainder of the period delivered an even three goals by each team, so the score going into the final frame stood at 9-6.

The final period proved similar to the first three, with goals from Goldschmidt, Venne and junior attacker Max Somple and only one Pacific goal to end the game in a 12-7 Aggie win.

In total, the Aggies and the Tigers both finished with 28 shots, and Quigley ended the game with an impressive 13 saves for UC Davis.

“This team is more than a team for me, it’s a family,” Goldschmidt said as he reflected on his last regular season home game. “We are here for each other in the good moments and the bad moments and have been there for each other every team. For me, coming from Israel half across the world to come play here, I am very emotional about it but very satisfying and I will definitely remember those moments for the rest of my life.”

Finishing the season with a 16-7 overall record and a 6-1 conference record, the Aggies are set to face Concordia University in the first round of the WWPA tournament in Fullerton, Calif. at 1 p.m.

“I am hopeful that the feeling they had [today] will continue,” Leyson said. “You don’t know until you know and with the level of energy that we brought across the board it’s encouraging and we are just going to try to keep doing this and see what happens.”

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org