Aggies lose close game in WWPA championship

Aggies lose close game in WWPA championship

Photo Credits: MARK HONBO / UC DAVIS ATHLETICS

UC San Diego beats UC Davis men’s water polo, 11-10

With a 16-7 overall record and a 6-1 conference record this season, the UC Davis men’s water polo team sought to earn its third straight Western Water Polo Association Championship on Nov. 18. Having gone undefeated in its previous two conference seasons, a loss to UC San Diego earlier this season set the stage for the championship duel.

The Aggies entered the weekend after dominating Concordia University, winning 19-6. Junior center Eric Martel led the scoring for UC Davis, earning a season high of four goals while freshman center Nir Gross scored three goals of his own. For the 16th consecutive year, UC Davis advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament.

In the semi-finals against Loyola Marymount University, the Aggies achieved similar results, with a 17-8 win. The game seemed to be over before the first period buzzer went off, as UC Davis ended the first frame with a 6-1 lead. Senior utility Ido Goldschmidt secured a hat trick in the match, while four other Aggies racked up two goals apiece.

With a 16-5 overall record and a 6-1 conference record in the regular season, the UC San Diego Tritons were able to secure the close 11-10 win over the Aggies in the ensuing championship game. Goldschmidt led the scoring for UC Davis with his second consecutive hat trick, but a five goal deficit in the fourth period was too much for UC Davis to overcome. This game proved the final competition for the six graduating Aggie seniors.

Sporting an impressive performance throughout the WWPA tournament and the regular season, Goldschmidt was named WWPA Player of the Year for the second time in his collegiate career.

“It’s always fun and a good feeling to get something like that, but it would have been way better it we had won the championship and qualified for NCAA,” Goldschmidt said.

He is the fourth consecutive and sixth overall Aggie to capture this award, and is now the first player in UC Davis history to capture the honor twice. In the 2018-19 season, Goldschmidt earned 10 hat tricks and finished his collegiate career with 212 goals, making him second in scoring in the program’s history since 1993.

“First of all, I think that the main contributor to the success of the team is to the Head Coach Dan Leyson,” Goldschmidt said. “I had a really good connection with him and we didn’t always agree with each other sometimes, but it was always because we had a mutual respect for each other, and I will always respect him as a person and a coach.”

Along with Goldschmidt came other honors for Aggie players. Gross earned WWPA All-Freshman Team, senior attacker Marcus Anderson earned All-WWPA Second Team and senior utility Riley Venne earned All-WWPA Honorable Mention.

“In my opinion, we have one of the top coaching staffs and facilities in the nation,” a graduating Goldschmidt said on the future of the organization. “We have everything we need to be a top team, and I won’t be there next year but we have a lot of really talented young guys that will grow for sure. I see UC Davis water polo being high in the national ranking in the next few years.”

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org