LOS ANGELES - Junior utility Ido Goldschmidt scored three goals while redshirt freshman Jack Stafford and senior Morgan Olson-Fabbro added two each, but eighth-ranked UC Davis could not complete a fourth-quarter comeback, ultimately falling to fifth-ranked Pacific in the quarterfinal round of the National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship tournament at Uytengsu Aquatics Center Thursday.
The Aggies finish their season at 22-7 overall. The Tigers improve to 21-5.
UC Davis trailed by as much as a 13-8 deficit with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Goldschmidt scored all three of his goals in that final comeback, including two goals on five-meter penalty opportunities. Olson-Fabbro put the Aggies on the board at the five-minute mark of the first frame, then hit his second on a 6-6 equalizer early in the third. Stafford's first goal of the game also gave UC Davis its first lead of the contest. He netted his second to start the fourth quarter.
Junior Riley Venne, junior Nick Coufal, senior Spencer Galli, sophomore Yurii Hanley and sophomore Holden Tamblyn each scored to account for the remainder of the UC Davis offense. Pacific sophomore Luke Pavillard netted four goals while Engin Ege Colak added three more to lead that team's scoring.
Pacific took an early 2-0 lead before the Aggies ended their scoreless start. Olson-Fabbro completed a power play with a short lob over the head of Tiger goalkeeper Allen Osmanovic. The Aggies trailed 4-2 early in the second before scoring three straight to take a 5-4 lead. Coufal helped kick off that run when he drew an ordinary foul then assisted Tamblyn for a score with 2:58 to go. The managerial economics major then drew an exclusion in transition and converted his own 6-on-5 opportunity to tie the contest at 4-4.
Then UC Davis caught a key break at the one-minute mark to take its first lead. The Aggies drew an exclusion by Tiger sophomore Luis Araya. As Araya exited the pool en route to serving his 20 seconds, he interfered with Hanley and thus incurred a five-meter penalty. Stafford hit the ensuing penalty shot to give UC Davis a 5-4 edge. Nonetheless, Pacific recovered to equalize on an Andres Schmidt goal with 19 ticks before the halftime break, sending the two teams to the intermission in a 5-5 tie.
Pacific managed to pull ahead in the third quarter, taking a 10-7 edge with a minute to go in the frame, then later to as much as 13-8 midway through the fourth, thanks in part to back-to-back Pavillard scores.
"It always comes down to some crucial turning points in the game," said UC Davis' Child & Meisel Families Director of Men's Water Polo Daniel Leyson. "We let them get too far away from us, a couple of turnovers that led to easy counterattack goals. That allowed them to extend away from us, more than we wanted. But we never quit. We won't quit, no matter what the score is. We almost tied it, and had a great look at the end of the game after being down by five."
Indeed, the Aggies rallied back with four straight goals despite the Tigers' efforts to manage the clock. Olson-Fabbro drew a five-meter foul and Goldschmidt hit the penalty shot to make it 13-9. Goldschmidt then scored on a counterattack after a Pacific contra foul, reducing the margin to 13-10. Hanley stole a ball from Osmanovich after a missed UC Davis shot, giving himself a look at an open net. That brought the score to 13-11.
Then with 1:05 left in regulation, Tamblyn collected the rebound off of his own bar-out shot. He passed it inside to Stafford, who drew yet another five-meter foul. Once again, Goldschmidt went to the imaginary line to take the penalty shot, and yet again, he converted. Aggie goalie R.J. Quigley came up with a key stop on the opposite end, giving UC Davis one final chance to force overtime. However, the would-be equalizer missed the mark, and Pacific ran out the final seconds to hold on to the victory.
Thursday's contest marked the second straight trip to the NCAA postseason for Leyson, who has now guided the Aggies to 45 wins in the past two seasons. It also marked the career finale for three UC Davis seniors: Olson-Fabbro, Galli and WWPA Player of the Year Cory Laidig.
"My hat is off to Pacific, they're a very good team," Leyson said. "They have very gifted, talented players and they're well coached. We gave them a very tough fight tonight."
"Overall, this was an outstanding season. It always hurts to end a season with a loss, but overall, our record speaks for itself and our accomplishments speak for themselves. We're a program that is continuing to grow. We lose some valuable guys this year but we return a lot of guys next year. We'll be back strong again next year."
2017 NATIONAL COLLEGIATE MEN'S WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
USC Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles)
|No. 8 UC Davis (22-7)||1||4||2||5||-||12|
|No. 5 Pacific (21-5)||3||2||5||3||-||13|
GOALS - UC DAVIS: Ido Goldschmidt 3, Morgan Olson-Fabbro 2, Jack Stafford 2, Spencer Galli 1, Holden Tamblyn 1, Nick Coufal 1, Riley Venne 1, Yurii Hanley 1. PACIFIC: Luke Pavillard 4, Engin Ege Colak 3, Andres Schmidt 2, Kale Ai 2, Devon Thumwood 1, Ben Stevenson 1.
ABOUT UC DAVIS
Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation's best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.
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