Photo Credits: Chloe Robinson (6) of the UC Davis Women's Water Polo team takes a shot attempt during a match against Fresno State on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020 at the Schaal Aquatics Center in Davis, Calif. (Photo by Justin Han / Aggie)
Senior utility scores seven goals, but UC Davis fall short against Bulldogs
Despite an astounding seven goal performance by senior utility Chloe Robinson, the UC Davis Women’s Water Polo team fell short in their third game of the Aggie Classic tournament.
The game remained very close throughout each quarter, but a series of turnovers and missed opportunities by UC Davis ultimately led to the Fresno State Bulldogs defeating the Aggies 12-10 in Sunday’s first game.
“Overall I thought we played pretty good defense for the most part,” said head coach Jamey Wright, referring to his team’s ability to hold Fresno State to only three goals on 10 powerplay opportunities. In regards to the Aggies’ two for 10 powerplay performance and overall turnover rate, Wright explained, “We need to be better in the six on five, we have to score more, we have to have more patience and eliminate some of those unnecessary turnovers.”
To begin the first quarter, the Bulldogs won the sprint, but Robinson was able to steal and gain possession for UC Davis. With an assist from sophomore utility Allyson Clague, Robinson was able to score the first goal of the game less than two minutes in. Robinson then took advantage of a Fresno State turnover and exclusion, giving the Aggies a 2-0 lead with five minutes still remaining in the first quarter.
This hopeful start for the Aggies dissolved quickly, as a UC Davis turnover and exclusion allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game at two. Just 30 seconds later, another turnover by the Aggies gave Fresno State a 3-2 lead. The Aggies next possession saw a goal by junior attacker Emily Aikema, and UC Davis re-tied the game at three apiece.
A fair amount of turnovers by UC Davis allowed the Bulldogs to maintain most of the control during the second quarter, scoring two goals and taking a 5-3 lead with just under two minutes remaining. Nonetheless, two exclusions on Fresno State led to Robinson scoring her third goal of the game to end the first half with the Aggies down four goals to five.
“We’re doing a really good job at playing team defense and getting up on the counter attack,” Robinson said. “I think we can push our counters a little bit more and just keep looking for each other and looking for the right shots and right passes.”
Robinson was an especially prominent force for the Aggies in the third quarter. The start of the period saw a power play goal from each team within the first two minutes, as Robinson scored another goal with an assist from sophomore utility Julia Hartmann. Within the next minute, Robinson stole the ball and scored once again to tie the game at six goals each.
Another goal from Fresno State was followed by Robinson’s sixth goal — her third of the quarter — assisted by senior utility Emily Byrne. The tie at seven did not last very long, as Fresno State scored twice more before the quarter ended.
After a missed powerplay shot by the Bulldogs, Clague and Hartmann, with assists from Robinson and Aikema, respectively, were able to bring the Aggies back up and tie the game for a fifth time. A steal by Clague with just under six minutes remaining allowed Robinson to score her seventh goal of the game and give the Aggies their first lead since the early in the first quarter.
Robinson’s seventh goal was the last the Aggies were able to muster. Fresno State scored three unanswered goals, two of which were preceded by UC Davis turnovers, in the last five minutes to hand the Aggies a 12-10 loss.
Despite the undesirable finish, Robinson remained optimistic about UC Davis’ ability to score in any situation.
“We have a lot of offensive threats and when they shut down one of us, we have a lot of other options and we really come together when our whole team steps up as outside shooters,” she explained.
Some of these offensive threats were displayed throughout the weekend tournament in the form of Robinson’s total of 11 goals, as well as ten goals from sophomore center Noelle Wijnbelt. All in all, the Aggies scored a total of 37 goals in four games.
Wright had confidence in his team following the loss, calling his group “resilient” and complimenting the leadership by the seniors. For that reason, he believes that the Aggies will “bounce back.” Robinson shared a similar sentiment.
“Trust in yourself and trust in your teammates,” she explained. “The shots aren’t always going to go in.”
This very close finish was similar to the two games that the Aggies participated in on Saturday. UC Davis lost both of its games by just one goal each, falling 8-9 in overtime to the California Golden Bears and 7-8 against San Jose State. The Aggies were able to secure a win in their final game of the tournament, however, defeating University of the Pacific 12-7 behind a five-goal effort from Wijnbelt.
The Aggies will now head down to Irvine this weekend for the Barbara Kalbus Tournament before officially opening Big West play with a tilt against UC Irvine at home on March 7.
Written by: Rain Yekikian — email@example.com