Water Polo Squares Off Tough Opposition From Both Coasts

Jessi Lafayette has caught fire as of late, scoring seven goals in 68 minutes of action during the past six games.<br>(Mark Honbo, Media Relations)
 
Jessi Lafayette has caught fire as of late, scoring seven goals in 68 minutes of action during the past six games.
(Mark Honbo, Media Relations)
 

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March 21, 2005

THIS WEEK
Mar. 25 - UC SANTA BARBARA, Noon
Mar. 29 - HARTWICK, Noon
Mar. 29 - CAL ST. MONTEREY BAY, 6 p.m.

LAST WEEK
Idle (UC Davis final examinations).

NOTES:

THIS WEEK: UC Davis ends its finals break with three more home games in a five-day stretch... First up is UC Santa Barbara, ranked 8th in the March 16 national poll... Then the Aggies take on No. 15 Hartwick and Cal St. Monterey Bay in a Mar. 29 doubleheader... The Gauchos face UC Davis as part of a tough four-day road trip that also includes Santa Clara, Stanford and San Jose State... Hartwick, which has six players who hail from Australia or New Zealand, has averaged better than 13 goals per game... The Hawks sport a 3-3 record against top-20 teams, including a 9-7 loss to Loyola Marymount and 7-6 loss to UC San Diego... They have won 10 straight, mostly against fellow CWPA Northern Division teams.

BY THE NUMBERS: The trio of Nicole Lorrimer, Cassie Schaefer and Christi Raycraft share the team scoring lead with 19 goals... Raycraft has drawn 38 ejections, 6th all-time and easily on pace to break Tiffany Hodgens' season record of 51 (2000 and 2002)... She also shares the Aggies' steals lead (with Sarah Rees) at 26... Senior Jenny Stephanopoulos and junior Jessi Lafayette have shouldered much of the recent offensive load... Each has 10 goals on the year, but Lafayette has scored seven of those in just the past six games... Goalie Lina Moore sits 16th nationally with 82 saves, according to Mar. 15 rankings compiled by Niall Adler of the Long Beach State media relations office.

HEAD COACH JAMEY WRIGHT:

ON FINALS WEEK: "It's always tricky because you don't have everybody at every practice. But I will say we've had 90 percent attendance and we've had very productive practices. We just pick one or two things to work on, then finish each day with a lot of 6-on-5. I feel like the team is starting to get it. They see what works and why. If we can maintain the type of attendance and intensity, we'll be in okay shape than UC Santa Barbara [who is also on the quarter system]. It won't be ideal because we might lose a little conditioning."

ON UC SANTA BARBARA: "They're a top-10 team. If we lose to them, it doesn't mean we're not in the NCAAs. If we beat them, it doesn't mean we make it. I want to see our season-long goals: not giving up scoring out of two meters, making them score from the outside, not giving up counterattack goals. And any ejections called on us should be at two meters. It's like in basketball -- you don't foul a jump shooter, you foul them in the paint."

"If you look at the month of March, we've converted 80 percent of our 6-on-5s. And that's not just a good game against Santa Cruz, that includes Arizona State and Santa Clara. For the season, we were about 40 percent. But the other teams were shooting 52 percent whereas they were shooting 42 percent for the season. So our 5-on-6 needs to improve."

ON BENCH PLAY: "We've really seen the development of our bench. Katie O'Neill has moved her way up in the last two or three weeks of practice. She's a great outside shooter and a smart player. She's not physically dominant but she has a high water polo IQ. That has really helped our offense. Against LMU, Jenny Stephanopoulos took and made big shots against a critical opponent, coming of the bench. That's a very hard thing to do. Same for Jessi [Lafayette], who had as many goals as anybody at the Santa Barbara tournament. They're getting more minutes not just because they earned it but because there are those times when we need their offense."