Feb. 11, 2014
Three wins and a ninth-place performance at last weekend's talent-rich Triton Invitational set the stage for UC Davis women's water polo annual Aggie Shootout home tournament, which takes place this Friday through Sunday. The 15th-ranked Aggies will open with San Jose State on the first day, take on Sonoma State and No. 2 Stanford in Saturday's portion, then face Bakersfield and Cal State East Bay on Sunday.
Though the Triton weekend consisted of four games, head coach Jamey Wright felt like his team experienced a lifetime of situations. His team came back from two-goal deficits in each of Sunday's game. No. 16 UC Santa Barbara struck immediately with two counterattack goals, but the Aggies rallied to capture a 6-5 win. Against No. 13 Indiana, UC Davis trailed by a 7-5 margin heading into the fourth, yet scored three unanswered to take an 8-7 win upset.
In particular, Sunday's ninth-place win over the Hoosiers seemed to bring all modes of challenges. Defenders Elsie Fullerton and Katrina Husted found themselves in foul trouble early on. Sophomore Ariel Arcidiacono was sidelined due to an injury sustained in the morning contest with UCSB. Wright found himself reaching deep into his bench in a close game against a nationally ranked foe.
"That was as rewarding as anything that happened during the weekend," said Wright. "There were so many exclusions that I had the second and third string in for most of the second and third quarters. I couldn't believe I was playing so many people in a game like that, but they did a really good job. They kept it close so that I could put the starters back in the fourth and make our push."
Wright's emphasis on spreading his practice reps and ensuring playing time throughout his roster paid off in that weekend finale. "It really was a good team effort," he added. "Everybody had played so many minutes that they were up to speed."
Nonetheless, a highlight reel of the weekend featured many of the usual suspects. Sophomore center Allyson Hansen led UC Davis in virtually every major category for the weekend, notably in goals (6), steals (7) and exclusions drawn (10). She also drew a pair of five-meter fouls, hit the go-ahead goal in the win over the Gauchos and netted the equalizer against the Hoosiers.
Junior Keelia Houston shot 5-for-10, scoring a hat trick against Indiana. Fullerton and Husted combined for nine steals on defense, which overall has held opponents to seven or fewer goals in five straight games. Junior goalkeeper Jillian Wilding tallied 24 saves -- including a season-high 13 against IU -- while posting six steals and surrendering just 19 goals. Her platoon partner, sophomore Haley Cameron, tallied 11 saves with two steals in Saturday's 12-5 victory over CSUEB.
According to Wright, one of the biggest results does not show up on the stat sheet. "We got to see Irvine again even though we didn't play them. We got to watch Northridge. We played Long Beach and Santa Barbara, and we've already played Hawai'i. So we've now seen or played everybody in the conference and we're only in the second weekend of tournaments."
Better still, the Triton weekend gives his team a much-needed boost as it heads into the upcoming weekend. "We go right from playing Santa Barbara and Indiana to playing San Jose and Stanford. We don't really take a weekend off," said Wright. "We made mistakes, don't get me wrong. But we had some things to build on. We took some steps forward from a perspective of team confidence."
No. 14 SAN JOSE STATE (8-5) took a weekend off after finishing sixth at the Stanford Invitational on February 1-2. The Spartans suffered one-goal losses at the hands of California and Hawai'i, both ranked among the top six. Freshman Clara Espar Llaquet, formerly of Spain's Junior National team, leads SJSU with 39 goals. Sophomore Rae Lekness, a 2013 MPSF All-Newcomer selection, is close behind with 32.
SONOMA STATE (0-5) went winless at the Triton Invite in its first action since losing to UC Davis back on January 25. Junior utility Brittny Hummel scored four goals in the tournament finale against Cal State East Bay but the Seawolves trailed wire-to-wire. Junior Jessica Stansfield, SSU's leading scorer in each of 2011 and 2013, netted seven goals for the weekend.
Like San Jose State, No. 2 STANFORD (4-0) also rested for a weekend after going undefeated at its own tournament to start the month of February. Junior driver Kiley Neushul scored 11 goals during the Stanford Invite, including five against UC Davis, to earn Mountain Pacific Sports Federation/KAP7 Player of the Week accolades. The Cardinal defeated third-ranked UCLA in the tournament finale, getting a hat trick from sophomore Anna Yelizarova.
BAKERSFIELD (3-7) split action with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and No. 9 San Diego State at the Cal Baptist Lancer Mini Tournament back on February 1 before sitting out for a bye weekend. Sophomore utility Niki De Leon paces the Roadrunners with 16 goals and 23 drawn exclusions while freshman driver Kristen Jensen has 15 goals, 10 assists and a team-high 18 steals.
CAL STATE EAST BAY (2-4) snapped a four-game losing skid with Sunday's 10-9 win over Sonoma State to place 15th at the Triton Invite. Head coach Lisa Cooper picked up her 200th career victory with that game. Returning All-American Sara Hudyn scored five of her team-leading 19 goals against the Seawolves, almost exactly 24 hours after netting a hat trick against the Aggies on Saturday.
The Aggie Shootout serves as a centerpiece for a Homecoming weekend of sorts for UC Davis women's water polo. Sunday features an Alumnae game at 2:15 p.m. while a wine-tasting fundraiser, hosted jointly with the men's water polo team, will take place at 6 p.m. on Sunday night at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
2014 AGGIE SHOOTOUT SCHEDULE
Schaal Aquatics Center
FRIDAY, FEB. 14
UC Davis vs. San Jose State, 4 p.m.
SATURDAY, FEB. 15
Santa Clara vs. San Jose State, 10:30 a.m.
UC Davis vs. Sonoma State, 11:45 a.m.
San Jose State vs. Bakersfield, 1:30 p.m.
Bakersfield vs. Sonoma State, 5 p.m.
UC Davis vs. Stanford, 6:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, FEB. 16
UC Davis vs. Bakersfield, 8 a.m.
Bakersfield vs. Cal State East Bay, 11:30 a.m.
UC Davis vs. Alumnae, 2:15 p.m.
UC Davis vs. Cal State East Bay, 3:30 p.m.
Dark caps listed first.