No. 13 Aggies Face Tough NorCal Test

Freshman Zoltan Lazar has logged the most playing time of any of the 2013 freshmen. He also scored his first collegiate hat trick against Long Beach State on Sept. 8.
(Mark Honbo, Athletics Communications)

Sept. 16, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. - A weekend off from competition resulted in a more rigorous week of training for the UC Davis men's water polo team, which gears up for the esteemed NorCal Invitational at the University of California and Diablo Valley College this weekend. Ranked 13th nationally, the Aggies will open with No. 5 Stanford on Saturday.

A bye in the schedule may not have been head coach Daniel Leyson's first choice, but he certainly made the most of it. "We had a week where we could train a little harder, finalize our physical preparation and really get ready for what's coming up," he said. The team also held an extended intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, in part to simulate upcoming opponents.

The Aggies jumped four places from their preseason ranking to No. 13 in last Wednesday's poll, mostly due to wins over Western Water Polo Association leaguemates Cal Baptist and Air Force, the latter of which entered the season in the 12th spot.

Also on that Wednesday, senior Bernie Rogers garnered KAP7 WWPA Player of the Week honors. The attacker from Del Mar scored eight goals with five assists and four steals in the four games at the Triton Invitational. Junior Chris Richardson tallied five goals with three assists to go with a team-leading 11 drawn exclusions during the weekend. Junior Trevor Allen chipped in six goals, including 3-for-5 shooting on power plays.

Moreover, the Triton weekend served as a prelude for the NorCal, which in turn acts as one of two de facto national championship tournaments on the annual slate, along with the twin SoCal Invitational. The tournament field features 14 of the top 20 programs, with a play-down to first through 16th places. As a result, the Sunday schedule tends to pair equally matched teams - not unlike a championship tournament.



"It's a really exciting tournament. All the big teams are there, and it's a big test to see where we are," Leyson said. "It marks a special time of year in the college season and it's the first real look at everybody. It's such a tough tournament having to play so many high-level games with little rest.

"Physical fitness really comes into play. We went hard in terms of physical training. There are a lot of benefits to that but you have to prepared for these games. They are one right after another, and fatigue enters into it. You have to be in top physical condition if you want to be able to think during a game."

UC Davis is pooled with No. 3 Pacific, No. 5 Stanford and No. 16 Santa Clara during Saturday's draw. The Aggies will face the Cardinal at 12:15, then either the Tigers or Broncos at 4:50 or 6:15 p.m. that evening. Both Saturday games will take place at the DVC site.

SKIP SHOTS: STANFORD (4-0) went undefeated at Brown's Bruno Fall Classic, taking down Brown, Harvard, No. 10 St. Francis and MIT by a combined score of 81-14... Sophomore Bret Bonanni led the Cardinal with 19 goals for the weekend... PACIFIC (5-0) enjoyed a similar weekend at the same tournament, outscoring its competition by a combined 83-23 margin... Senior Goran Tomasevic tallied 17 goals to earn MPSF Player of the Week honors... SANTA CLARA (4-2) also traveled back east, falling to No. 14 Princeton by a 9-7 margin before going 4-0 at the Princeton Invite.