East meets West at Julian Fraser Memorial Tourney

Oct. 17, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - Following two more wins on its Western Water Polo Association slate, No. 10 UC Davis men’s water polo competes in its final regular-season tournament of the year, Santa Clara’s Julian Fraser Memorial, held at SCU’s Sullivan Aquatic Center and West Valley College. The Aggies will take on No. 12 St. Francis and Wagner in Saturday’s session, then No. 14 Harvard and No. 18 Bucknell during Sunday’s action.

Formerly known as the Rodeo, the Fraser Memorial is named for the former Bronco player who passed away last February after almost a year-long battle with cancer. He scored 26 goals as a redshirt freshman in 2015, earning WWPA and ACWPC All-Academic honors in the process, but was diagnosed the following spring. 

The tournament also provides one of the rare “East meets West” opportunity for the WWPA, Mid-Atlantic WPC and Northeast WPC teams. For UC Davis and Child And Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo Daniel Leyson, the upcoming weekend creates a challenging weekend, with one tough contest after another. Among them is a rematch with Harvard, which eliminated the Aggies from the NCAA play-in game last December.

“These are four really hard games against teams that are very close to us in rankings. They come out to the West coast with the sole intention of knocking us off,” said Leyson. “I think we’ll be the highest-ranked team in the tournament, so it makes everyone get up for us. It will be a very, very difficult weekend. We can’t look past anybody.”

UC Davis combined for a 31-7 margin in its two conference wins over Santa Clara and Concordia over the weekend. Junior utility Ido Goldschmidt led the team in scoring with six total goals, including four against the Eagles on Sunday, but the overall Aggie offense was marked by the balance it has shown all season. Fourteen players netted a goal at some point during the weekend, with Goldschmidt, senior Spencer Galli, senior Morgan Olson-Fabbro, sophomore Max Somple, sophomore Holden Tamblyn and junior Marcus Anderson scoring in each contest. UC Davis also converted 7-for-12 on power plays, and shut out CUI on all five exclusion situations against.

The opposing field at the Fraser Memorial also sets up UC Davis for its stretch run and conference tourney, as the four weekend foes have a similar national profile as the top WWPA teams – at least, in terms of national ranking. In fact, St. FRANCIS (10-5) tied for 12th in last week’s poll with UC San Diego, thanks to what has swollen to a 10-game win streak. The Terriers scored an NEC win over Princeton on Wednesday, then swept George Washington, Bucknell and Wagner during the North-South tourney over the weekend. In contrast, WAGNER (9-10) has lost five straight, with its last win dating back to a 15-6 victory over Navy back on October 1. Freshman and 2016 Olympian (Serbia) Jasmin Kolasinac has a whopping 66 goals in the 19 games for the Seahawks.

Adding to the rigors of the weekend is having four opponents with significantly different styles, says Leyson. “If you look at St. Francis, they have a ton of European playres and a European coach, so they play a straight-ahead European style, with a lot of zone. A team like Wagner moves all around, all over the place, playing more pressing. 

“Harvard has a unique style where they just go at you all of the time. They try to force you into bad situations and they play a risk-oriented defense that puts you under pressure. If you make a mistake, they counterattack. Then Bucknell plays more zone with big, strong two-meter men and a player who is an incredible scorer. It’s a variety of styles and it’s hard to prepare for everybody.”

BUCKNELL (12-8) split its four games at the Harvard Invitational weekend after running the table on seven straight Mid-Atlantic Conference teams. Sophomore Rade Joksimovic, also a Serbia National Team alum, leads the Bison with 37 goals. HARVARD (14-4) swept its own tournament with victories against Johns Hopkins, Pomona-Pitzer and GW last weekend, extending its win streak to six. Freshman Dennis Blyashov leads the Crimson with 54 goals while sophomore Austin Sechrest has 40. Sechrest is well-known to Aggie fans: he scored the game-winner in the NCAA tournament meeting last December.

“The more tough games we can get, the better,” said Leyson. “We’ve been through a lot of tough ones already, and we want to keep playing. We want to go toe-to-toe with people and emerge victorious. Those are the games you learn the most from.”

Tournament info for the Julian Fraser Memorial Tournament is available at:

Julian Fraser, the namesake of this weekend’s tournament at Santa Clara, hailed from the same Greenwich, Connecticut, community that produced UC Davis junior goalie R.J. Quigley... Fraser and Quigley played for rival clubs (Greenwich Aquatics and Greenwich WPC, respectively) and different high schools (Greenwich HS and Fairfield Prep, respectively), but grew up in the same neighborhood... Sunday opponent Harvard has now battled UC Davis to four straight one-goal games in the series... The Crimson beat the Aggies 13-12 in last year’s opener, lost 7-6 at the Rodeo, then took the 16-15 NCAA play-in thriller in Berkeley in December... Prior to that, Harvard nipped UC Davis in overtime at the 2015 Rodeo.

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.

Season and single-game tickets for all UC Davis fall sports are now on sale by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting us online at UCDavisAggies.com.