No. 9 UC Davis to honor seniors Saturday

Oct. 25, 2017

Live Stats (FOSH) | UC Davis Men's Water Polo Facebook

DAVIS, Calif. - Four victories with a combined score of 61-28, three of which came against Top 20 opposition, propels No. 9 UC Davis men’s water polo into the home stretch of its 2017 season. The Aggies resume Western Water Polo Association play in their home finale on Saturday against Fresno Pacific. First sprint is at noon.

UC Davis claimed wins against No. 12 St. Francis, Wagner, No. 15 Harvard and No. 16 Bucknell at last weekend’s Julian Fraser Memorial Tournament at Santa Clara. That weekend has notoriously featured a few “trap games” in recent years, with upset losses to Harvard (2013, 2015), Brown (2013, 2014) and Bucknell (2014) well within the memories of Daniel Leyson and/or his veteran players. 

In the end, the Child And Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo points to his team’s overall depth and a solid defensive effort for leading the way toward a 4-0 weekend. “I would have liked to have seen the opponent goals totals be a little bit less,” he said, “but overall, our fitness and our ability to press and counterattack was positive.”

“I also have to say that I credit my staff for being really prepared for every game,” added Leyson, giving a nod to his assistant coaches, Trent Calder and Yurema Sabio. “We had information and we prepared well for every team. It was a lot of work behind the scenes to help our guys be ready and feel comfortable with what we would face.”

The upcoming UC Davis-FPU conference game represents the home finale for three UC Davis seniors: utility Cory Laidig, attacker Spencer Galli, and center Morgan Olson-Fabbro. Not only does each play a different position and role for the Aggies, but each experienced a different route in reaching this point in his respective career.

Olson-Fabbro transferred to UC Davis from West Valley College, where he earned All-NorCal honors. He figured immediately with such numbers as 29 goals and 22 drawn exclusions as a junior, and emerged this season as the team’s primary two-meter man – particularly when sophomore Eric Martel was still returning from offseason injury. Most importantly, says Leyson, Olson-Fabbro’s overall presence on the team has evolved in a manner reminiscent of 2016 senior Tennyson May.

“I think Morgan is a story of growth and maturity, especially in the last few months. We have seen a change in Morgan that is so heartwarming. For whatever reason, it has been a flip of the switch. He is playing really well and it’s a result of the amount of work he has put it but also his approach to the work. It has really changed everything for him.”

Galli, originally from Sir Francis Drake High in Marin County, is the team’s lone fifth-year veteran. He redshirted in 2013, and played steadily throughout the subsequent three seasons while picking up All-Academic awards from both the conference and the ACWPC. His speed made him valuable on counterattacks and in quarter springs, But this year, Galli has truly come into his own as a key offensive contributor, with his 27 goals nearly matching his entire career total entering the season (29).

“Galli has progressed year after year after year. He has worked so hard and has come a long way. He’s one of our captains and most valuable players. He wins every sprint for us. He does a lot of the dirty work, and he also has scored a lot of important goals. I will say Galli’s competitive drive and his attitude about approaching the game is just super-helpful. He reaches above the standards of the past. He is vocal in ways that can’t be put on paper. When we play these GCC teams, he wants to go after them. He is super-valuable to the team and contributes in multiple ways.”

In contrast to Galli and most Aggies, who redshirt their first year while adjusting to the collegiate game, Laidig came in as a complete package. A member of four Southern Section-champion teams at Agoura High School, he already owned as much high-level experience as many of the program veterans before he ever began his freshman year. Thus, it came as little surprise when Laidig snared WWPA Newcomer of the Year in 2014. He has since earned All-WWPA honorable mention in 2016, while making the WWPA and ACWPC All-Academic rolls three times.

“Cory had played more competitive games than anyone else in our program before he had even entered college. I knew he was a huge pick-up for us. He has such a drive and focus combined with experience and game knowledge. You won’t see him in the scoring column. But if you had an MVP of people who are not in the goals column, he’s it. He’s our glue. He matches up with the other team’s best defender. He comes up with steals at important times and he makes key passes. He makes big stops on 5-on-6 defense. That’s Cory. You put him in every situation and in every aspect of the game, and just say ‘go ahead.’ That kind of guy is truly difficult to replace. There is no aspect of the game where I don’t want him in there, and that’s perhaps the highest compliment a coach can give a player.”

The team will honor the three seniors prior to Saturday’s first sprint, although it is hardly a farewell. UC Davis continues its WWPA schedule against two of the league’s toughest foes during the following week, then takes on No. 5 Pacific for a regular-season finale on November 11 before heading into the conference tourney.

Live stats will be available at the FOSH, while the team will provide a link for live video on its Facebook page. Both links are above.

Junior attacker Marcus Anderson is a candidate for HERO Sports D-I Men’s Water Polo HERO of the Week... Fan voting is available at through Friday... Junior goalie R.J. Quigley won the same award during Week 2 of the year... Anderson, sophomore Eric Martel and junior Ido Goldschmidt each netted eight goals to share the Aggie scoring lead at the Julian Fraser tournament... The Aggies held on to the No. 9 spot in Wednesday’s national coaches’ poll, marking the 14th straight week (not counting the 2016 postseason poll) that the team has stayed in the top 10... No UC Davis men’s water polo team has gone wire-to-wire in the top 10... The 2007 squad came close: No. 11 in the preseason and final, but hovered from Nos. 8-10 at all points in between.

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