CSUMB, Santa Clara next on No. 13 Aggies' slate

Feb. 22, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - After a 3-1 weekend in its first home weekend, No. 13 UC Davis women’s water polo goes right back to the road, this time for a Saturday doubleheader at Santa Clara. The Aggies face Cal State Monterey Bay for a neutral-waters matchup, then takes on the host Broncos at Sullivan Aquatics Center.

UC Davis scored decisive wins over Sonoma State (19-6), Occidental (19-4) and 24th-ranked CSU Bakersfield (12-6), although in many ways, the most encouraging result for head coach Jamey Wright was the lone setback, an 11-8 loss to then-No. 11 Pacific. That marked a quantum forward leap from the 15-6 loss to the Tigers in the opening weekend, showing once again the Aggies’ significant improvements from the start of 2017 to the season’s midpoint.

“When we played Pacific the first time at West Valley, they came out an smoked us.” said Wright. “I think it was 8-1 in the first quarter. We just got our tails beaten. On Saturday, we spotted them three goals at the beginning, but we played 8-8 after that and I really feel like we battled the whole way.”

Junior Greta Kohlmoos posted four goals against the Tigers in her first of three four-goal performances for the weekend. She shot 13-for-23 with three steals and two drawn exclusions in the tournament, later earning Big West Conference Player of the Week plaudits. Sophomore Annie Kutt enjoyed another strong weekend on the stat sheet, shooting 6-for-11 with a team-leading eight assists and seven steals.

“People tell me about the improvements they see every day, and I feel like we’re getting a little better. But to play dramatically better against a good team, a Top-11 team, is very gratifying. We’re showing that we can trust the process. It’s a clear touchstone for where we are,” said Wright.

The wins over CSU Bakersfield and Sonoma State also revealed several positives for Wright. In Sunday’s win, the Roadrunners came back to pull within an 8-6 deficit with more than six minutes remaining. However, the Aggies buckled down both offensively and defensively, finishing on a 4-0 run. Against the Seawolves on Saturday, UC Davis came out to a slow start, despite playing its first unranked opponent of the year. SSU took a 4-3 lead after the first quarter, held a 5-5 tie midway through the second and trailed just 7-5 to the Aggies at halftime.

“That was not a good first half for us,” said Wright. “I put in our third group, and then it went to 11-5. It’s a group that gets no love in terms of playing time, but maybe they should. So I need to acknowledge them.”

Namely, it was Quinn Galli, Ariana Momen, Cassidy Smithson and Audrey Taylor who scored the four unanswered goals to start the third quarter. That foursome, all redshirt freshmen and true freshmen, entered the weekend with three combined goals in the first 14 games of 2017, yet came through to spark the team after a slow start.

The tight first half against Sonoma State and the late charge from CSU Bakersfield also offered a reminder to the Aggies not to take any opponent lightly, even if they are not as highly ranked as opponents like Stanford, UCLA, Cal and Arizona State from early in the season. That warning will continue into the upcoming weekend, with CSUMB and Santa Clara on tap. In fact, it was the then-No. 18 Broncos that stung UC Davis with an 11-10 Senior Day upset less than three years ago.

“They can rise up and bite you,” said Wright. “It’s not going to be easy, we have to go out there and play really well because they are not just going to hand you a win.”

Furthermore, UC Davis’ areas of concern have not changed in the recent weeks. The Aggies only converted 4 of 18 power-play opportunities (22.2 percent) while allowing 12 of 24 against (50 percent). UC Davis went 0-for-5 against Pacific on exclusions while yielding a 4-for-6 rate against – easily representing the eventual outcome against a team very comparable with the Big West opponents just weeks away on the schedule.

“That’s still a biggie for us,” said Wright. “It’s like making your free throws in basketball. Sometimes you go back and see that those made the difference.”

The UC Davis-CSUMB game begins at noon while the UC Davis-Santa Clara tilt starts at 3 p.m.

SKIP SHOTS: The combo of Paige Virgil and Greta Kohlmoos winning Big West Player of the Week awards represents the third time UC Davis has had back-to-back recipients... Hannah Harvey won it in consecutive weeks on March 9 and 16 last year... Carmen Eggert (Apr. 18) and Rachel Tatusko (Apr. 25) won it in succession back in 2012...  Virgil and Kohlmoos lead the Aggies in goals with 32 and 31, respectively... They are among six total UC Davis players with double-digit scoring: Chloe Robinson (15), Annie Kutt (15), McKenna Hauss (15) and Harvey (13)... The goalkeeping tandem of senior Avery Dotterer and freshman Caitlin Golding combined for 43 saves against 27 goals allowed (.614)... Dotterer played the entirety of the games against the two ranked teams, amassing 13 stops with a steal in the 12-6 win over CSUB... Golding scored the complete-game win over SSU, totaling 12 saves with six goals against... She had five assists for the weekend.

ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: SANTA CLARA (3-8) has lost seven straight since sweeping a home doubleheader against Cal State East Bay and Sonoma State back on February 4... Sophomore utility and 2016 Golden Coast Conference All-Freshman honoree Hannah Buck leads the Broncos with 12 goals while Annie Eldredge and Cathy Cantoni have seven apiece...  SCU freshman Maggie Oys will be a familiar face for several Aggies, having cut her teeth with the Davis WPC... CAL STATE MONTEREY BAY (4-3) swept a pair of games at Fresno Pacific back on February 11, but has been idle since... The Otters knocked off Concordia of Irvine, 15-7, then edged the host Sunbirds by a 12-11 final... Senior attacker and 2016 Div. II All-American Tatiana Veloso recorded seven goals with four assists in the two wins to earn WWPA Player of the Week distinction.