Aggies, Tritons Advance To WWPA Title Game

Teddy Nicholson had a steal and a picturesque goal in the final minute to seal the Aggies' 9-7 win over LMU in Saturday's semifinal round.
(Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)

Nov. 23, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. - Senior attacker and Western Water Polo Association Player of the Year Bernie Rogers scored a hat trick to lead top-seeded and 11th-ranked UC Davis to a 9-7 victory over fourth-seeded and 15th-ranked Loyola Marymount in the first semifinal game of the WWPA Championship Saturday. The Aggies will face No. 10 UC San Diego, which defended its early start in an 8-4 win over No. 14 Santa Clara in the second semifinal.

The championship contest, the winner of which earns the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship, takes place at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Single-day passes are available for $15 for adults, $10 for youth and students.

UC Davis never trailed in its semifinal victory over LMU, with Rogers scoring two of his three goals in the third quarter. Sophomore Milutin Mitrovic hit a hat trick for the Lions while Emanuel DiStasio added another two. LMU scored all but one of its goals on either 6-on-5 chances or five-meter penalty shots, tying the game on two occasions in the second quarter but never pulling ahead.

Rogers hit the game's opener out of two meters, converting an assist from sophomore Austin Beckwith with 5:10 to go. Senior Tyler Elliott made it 2-0 with his counterattack at the 2:38 mark. Matt Cuozzo put LMU on the board on the following possession, then sophomore Seth Coldren equalized with his power-play goal two minutes into the second. The two teams locked up at 3-3 on goals by Beckwith for UC Davis and Di Stasio for LMU before Aggie freshman Max Vigeant muscled his way to a two-meter goal in the final minute before halftime.



Elliott struck again with a long skip shot at 5:19 in the third to put UC Davis up to a 5-3 lead. Each team traded goals for the remainder of the third, allowing the Aggies an 8-6 edge entering the final period. UC Davis ran into foul trouble late in the contest, with key scorers Rogers, Beckwith, Chris Richardson and Trevor Allen each holding two exclusions by the 4:42 mark in the fourth. Mitrovic hit his team's first natural goal to cut the lead to 8-7 with 3:38 to go, blazing a missile past the hands of Allen and goalkeeper Philip Bates.

Each team took scoreless trips down the course until just under a minute left. Junior Teddy Nicholson teamed up with Bates for a steal at two meters. Then on the opposite end, Nicholson beat two Lion defenders down low, firing a shot into the high left corner for his team's ninth goal. LMU turned the ball over on its final trip down, and Bates protected the ball through the final seconds.

Bates finished with 12 saves in front of the Aggie cage while his counterpart, redshirt freshman Kirk Wilenius, recorded 11 on the LMU end.

Juniors Tommy Friedrich and David Higginson each had hat tricks while junior goalkeeper Cameron Ravanbach posted 14 saves, helping UC San Diego protect its early start in the 8-4 win over SCU. Four Bronco players - sophomore Garrat Johnson, senior Patrick Weiss, senior Jimmy Moore and freshman Graham McClone - each tallied one score.

Friedrich opened the action with a goal from the one spot, then hit a backhanded sweep shot at the 3:07 mark to launch the Tritons to a 3-0 start in the contest. Garrat Johnson put SCU on the board with his bar-in shot on the next possession, then Joe Dietrich converted a power play to close out the first period with UCSD taking a one-goal lead.

The Tritons held a 5-2 lead at halftime and a 6-3 advantage through three quarters, holding the Broncos scoreless for more than nine minutes in the second half. SCU finally ended that stretch when Moore found McClone at two meters for a goal at the 4:20 mark in the fourth, cutting the UCSD lead to 8-4.

Santa Clara finished the game with just 4-for-32 shooting, and converted just one of seven power plays. UCSD shot 8-for-26 and hit 2 of 6 on eight 6-on-5 opportunities.

UC Davis and UC San Diego last met in a WWPA title game in 2011, with the Tritons taking an 8-7 win. That avenged the Aggies' 10-6 victory in the semifinals one year earlier. LMU will face Santa Clara in Sunday's third-place contest at 12:15 p.m. Air Force and Cal Baptist will square off in the fifth-place game to open the final tournament day.

The winner of the WWPA championship earns the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Championship, hosted by Stanford on Dec. 7-8. This is the first time UC Davis has hosted the men's championship since 2004, its first season at Schaal Aquatics Center.

Hosted by UC Davis • Schaal Aquatics Center

#4 Loyola Marymount (13-14) 1 2 3 1 - 7
#1 UC Davis (14-12) 2 2 4 1 - 9

GOALS - LMU: Miltun Mitrovic 3, Emanuel DiStasio 2, Matt Cuozzo 1, Seth Coldren 1. UC Davis: Bernie Rogers 3, Tyler Elliott 2, Max Vigeant 1, Austin Beckwith 1, Chris Richardson 1, Teddy Nicholson 1.

GOALIE SAVES - LMU: Kirk Wilenius 11 (32:00). UC Davis: Philip Bates 12 (32:00).

#3 Santa Clara (17-15) 1 1 1 1 - 4
#2 UC San Diego (13-13) 4 1 1 2 - 8

GOALS - SCU: Garrat Johnson 1, Patrick Weiss 1, Jimmy Moore 1, Graham McClone 1. UCSD: Tommy Friedrich 3, David Higginson 3, Joe Dietrich 2.

GOALIE SAVES - SCU: Matt Pritchett 9 (32:00). UCSD: Cameron Ravanbach 14 (32:00).