DAVIS, Calif. - The Aggie Shootout home tournament two weeks ago and the Santa Clara doubleheader may have served as a departure from the string of nationally ranked opponents to start the year, but this weekend's schedule uses that word in a more literal sense: UC Davis women's water polo heads to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to compete in the two-day, four-game Wolverine Invitational. The 13th-ranked Aggies take on No. 7 host U-M and No. 9 Pacific on Saturday, then face CWPA members Bucknell and No. 18 Hartwick in Sunday's portion.
"We have to play tough games on the road in conference, so this is a good opportunity to learn how to stay focused," said head coach Jamey Wright. "These are all teams that are the same level as Hawai'i and Irvine and the other teams we have to get through to win our conference. These are great games to play."
The two wins at Santa Clara -- a 16-2 drubbing of Cal State Monterey Bay and a 11-7 victory over the host Broncos -- extends the Aggies' win streak to five straight heading into the tournament. Juniors Greta Kohlmoos and Paige Virgil and sophomore McKenna Hauss each scored four goals over the weekend. Hauss added five assists for a team-best nine points. Senior Hannah Harvey finished with 2-for-2 shooting, six assists and four steals. Senior Sammy Preston had one of her best weekends to date, totaling five points (2 goals, 3 assists) with team bests of five steals and three drawn exclusions.
The goalie tandem of senior Avery Dotterer and freshman Caitlin Golding split duties in front of the cage over the weekend. Golding posted 10 saves, a season-best four steals and a steal in the win over CSUMB. Dotterer had seven saves against SCU to put herself over the century mark for the year.
The Aggies, says Wright, have steadily improved in certain areas, including transition defense. They have held teams to single-digit goals in seven of the last eight games, including twice against top-10 competition. UC Davis also locked down defensively on power-play situations, holding CSUMB and SCU to just 3-for-17, compared to the 12-for-24 against during the Aggie Shootout. However, the team's 6-on-5 conversion is still an area that the Aggies look to turn the corner.
"We're getting opportunities but we still have to get to a better percentage. This weekend will be another good opportunity to work on that and really focus on that specific element of the game," Wright said. "We've experimented with people in different spots and we're starting to jell. We've moved people around to maximize our chances. We're in a pretty good place, we just have to be more consistent."
A Wolverine Invitational tournament page is available at www.mgoblue.com/sports/w-wpolo/spec-rel/wpw-invite-2017.html. All games take place in Canham Natatorium. Live scoring will be available for all Michigan games, while Pacific's director of operations provides live stats for all Tiger games via the FOSH.
2017 WOLVERINE INVITATIONAL
Canham Natatorium Ann Arbor, Mich. UC Davis games only
Saturday, March 4
Michigan vs. UC Davis, 8:20 a.m. PST
Pacific vs. UC Davis, 2:20 p.m.
Sunday, March 5
Bucknell vs. UC Davis, 7:20 a.m. PST
Hartwick vs. UC Davis, 10:50 a.m.
SKIP SHOTS: UC Davis will travel almost 2,300 miles to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face its closest water polo neighbor (Pacific, about 58 miles away)... This marks the first time UC Davis has competed east of the Pacific time zone since April of 2005, when the team took part in Indiana's Fluid Five tournament... The host Hoosiers had an All-American-to-be named Kandace Waldthaler, now in her eighth season as the Aggies' assistant coach... Two Aggie players have scored at least one goal in each of the five straight wins over the past two weekends... Greta Kohlmoos has 13 in that span, and 17 during the past six contests... Sophomore Annie Kutt has scored in seven straight, including a hat trick against Sonoma State during the Aggie Shootout plus a two-goal output in Saturday's win over Santa Clara... Kohlmoos has 35 goals for the year, second only to fellow junior Paige Virgil (36)... Kutt leads in assists at 24, with Hannah Harvey behind with 20... Harvey (26) and Kutt (25) are also 1-2 on the team stat sheet in steals.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: Saturday's portion of the Wolverine Invite will feature two rematches of earlier 2017 meetings... No. 7 MICHIGAN (10-7) claimed an 11-7 win over the Aggies at the Stanford Invitational, pulling away from a 7-7 halftime battle... Five Wolverines have scored more than 20 goals, led by junior Caroline Anderson with 27.... GK Heidi Ritner has a glittering .569 save percentage (161 saves, 122 GA)... No. 9 PACIFIC (8-5) has faced UC Davis twice this year, most recently with an 11-8 win at the Aggie Shootout... The trio of redshirt freshman Kyra Christmas (25 goals), junior Karolina Hlavata (23) and junior Rachel Krieger (22) led the Tigers in scoring... Christmas, who also has team highs of 15 assists and 18 steals, posted a 2-3-5 scoring chart in the previous meeting with UC Davis; and netted a career-best six goals against the Aggies at last year's LouStrong Memorial... No. RV BUCKNELL (6-5) fell to No. 18 Hartwick in its conference opener on Saturday... Sophomore and leading scorer Emily Konishi (20 goals, 26 assists) had a goal and assist against the Hawks... No. 18 HARTWICK (7-2) enjoyed six goals out of junior utility Zsofia Polak in the CWPA win over Bucknell... Polak scored 112 goals en route to All-America honorable mention in 2016, and already has 29 tallies with 12 assists in the Hawks' nine games this season... As is common for the program, `Wick has a multinational roster, with representation from nine countries: Australia, Canada, Greece, Hungary, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Spain and of course, the USA.
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