No. 9 UC Davis launches WWPA play on Thursday

Sept. 13, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - The 11-team, 23-game Aggie Roundup tournament looms ahead on the 2017 UC Davis men’s water polo schedule, yet it hardly rates as a glimmer in the eye of Daniel Leyson, the Child And Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo. Instead, the sole focus for the Aggie players and coaches is Thursday’s matchup against Cal Baptist, which represents the start of Western Water Polo Association play.


For Leyson, winning the conference championship stands as one of the team’s primary annual goals. So preparation for anything else this week would be a disservice to that objective. Additionally, the Lancers have been a thorn in the UC Davis side since joining the WWPA in 2013. After all, CBU handed the Aggies an overtime upset in 2014, then battled UC Davis to one-goal games in each of the conference semifinals in 2015 and 2016.


The ninth-ranked Aggies enter the weekend with a 4-2 record following Saturday’s home-opening win over San Jose State. However, Leyson sees a significant amount of improvement still in front of his team. 


“We need to keep getting better. We’re doing a lot of things right now that need to get sharper,” said the veteran coach. “I know that we have had good results, but the way we look at it, we’re making mistakes in terms of things we can control. That’s a no-no. There are certain things we can control, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this game coming up. We know that Cal Baptist is a tough opponent, so we have to be ready. We’ll focus on some of the things they do but really, it’s about us getting better.”


The Lancers showed they have overcome the graduation two of the conference’s top performers in Brent Teraoka and Joseph Moorman by opening the 2017 season with a 5-1 start. That run includes a 14-13 upset of Bucknell at the Bruno Fall Classic, plus two decisive victories over Division III powers La Verne (22-11) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (17-6) last weekend. Dominick Nevarez, last week’s WWPA Player of the Week, leads CBU with 19 goals while Jonny Lotero is close behind with 18. 


Meanwhile, UC Davis showed in its recent week how diverse is its attack. Junior Marcus Anderson leads the team in goals with 12 while Ido Goldschmidt and Spencer Galli have 10 and 9, respectively. Sophomore Yurii Hanley paces the defense with 12 steals. The Aggies even have depth in the cage, with junior R.J. Quigley (22 saves) and freshman Jonah Addington (29 saves) splitting time equally through the first six games. 


“I think some individual guys have done really well, and our fitness level is pretty good. It’s going to get better,” said Leyson. “And I like the fact that so many different people are contributing. We’re trying to share the ball as well as we can. But that’s just the start. There’s a long way to go and a lot of things we need to get better at.”


UC Davis follows Thursday’s conference opener with Aggie Roundup games against Long Beach State (Saturday), Pepperdine (Sunday) and Redlands (Sunday). The home tournament takes place at both Schaal Aquatics Center and the Woodland Community Swim Center. Admission is free. Results can be found at http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/sports/m-wpolo/spec-rel/2017roundup.html.


SKIP SHOTS: UC Davis lost a 15-10 midweek game to No. 1 California, marking the team’s highest goals total against a “Big Four” team since a 17-12 loss against the then-No. 2 Golden Bears during the 2007 Aggie Shootout... Even that game’s output is slightly misleading: due to a skirmish between several players, the Aggies were awarded four straight five-meter penalty shots in the final minute... UC Davis also had a 6-4 loss to then-No. 4 Stanford later in that 2007 season... The Aggie Roundup will mark the first time UC Davis has hosted a game at the Woodland CSC since 2000, when Cal visited for a season opener... Off-site home games were fairly common prior to the 2004 opening of Schaal Aquatics Center, as the old Hickey Pool was no longer regulation-sized for NCAA play... All 11 teams in this weekend’s Roundup are represented in one of the two major CWPA coaches’ polls... No. 2 USC, No. 5 Pacific, No. 6 Long Beach State, No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 9 UC Davis and No. 15 Cal Baptist appear in the Top 20, while Santa Clara, San Jose State and Whittier are among the teams receiving votes... Redlands (No. 5) and MIT (No. 9) are in the Division III Top 10.


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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