Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

No patsies for Aggie men’s water polo as NCAA champs are up first

0903POLOw

UCD senior and DHS graduate Michael Wright, middle, prepares to make a block in front of goalie Spencer Creed in a Tuesday practice at Schaal Aquatic Center. The Aggies open the season on Saturday. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page B1 | September 03, 2014 |

Ranked No. 11 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association preseason poll, the UC Davis men know there’s plenty of work to be done if they’re still planning to make waves when that December NCAA title tournament rolls around.

The lofty poll placement equals the highest preseason ranking in school history (2008 and 2009 Aggie squads achieved similar regard) and second-year coach Daniel Leyson believes the notoriety comes with a mixed meaning.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m happy (about the ranking). I was surprised to know that (it equals) the highest preseason ranking we’ve ever had,” the second-year UCD coach told The Enterprise. “So, I can’t say I’m not pleased about it.

“At the same time, if we get caught up with any of that kind of stuff, if we don’t consistently remind ourselves that we have to work so hard, that we have to stay together … and we can’t start getting ahead of ourselves because we could easily be lower than that at the end of the season.

“Or we could be higher.”

Last year, UCD finished at No. 14 after going 14-13 (5-0 in the Western Water Polo Association).

The Aggies dropped a 6-4 overtime decision to UC San Diego in the league’s postseason finale, costing them a trip to NCAAs — won for the sixth straight year by Leyson’s former employer, USC.

“With lofty rankings comes more prep by opponents who start taking us a little more seriously,” explained the coach, pointing out that UCD has a tough-enough schedule as it is without being targeted.

Come Saturday, the locals open the Triton Invitational in San Diego with none other than the national champion Trojans (9:50 a.m.). USC is ranked No. 2 behind Stanford.

Later in the day, WWPA member Cal Baptist and the Aggies get a peek at each other before an Oct. 9 conference-kickoff tilt in Riverside.

Sunday, UCD takes on Mountain Pacific Sports Conference foes UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

The Aggies get in more deep water Sept. 13-14 when they play at No. 4 Cal, then visit No. 5 Pacific.

After playing in the Tigers’ NorCal Invitational Sept. 20-21 in Stockton, the locals finally come home for the Aggie Shootout (Sept. 27-28), which has Navy, Whittier, Chapman and Cal Lutheran visiting.

Top-ranked Stanford — featuring former Davis High All-American Connor Stapleton — invades Schaal Aquatic Center on Oct. 5 (noon).

Tournaments in Los Angeles and Santa Clara are also on the Aggie agenda.

While the schedule is dynamic, Leyson says his team is balanced, working hard and, he hopes, up to the task:

“One of our strengths is our driving game. But I don’t really see any particular aspect of our game that is head and shoulders above any other aspect. I think we’re pretty solid across the board.”

Returning is utility standout Chris Richardson. The senior by way of Palos Verdes High was the Ags’ top scorer (49 goals) in 2013. He’s joined by Golden West College transfer Sean Grab and Teddy Nicholson (another DHS product) in an attack that Leyson believes has some punch.

Richardson is on pace to establish a new school record for goal proficiency, and already has 158 career netbenders (currently seventh all-time). The Aggie standard-bearer is Kevin Quinn, who scored 202 times in 1993-96.

“I’d like that (record) to happen for him,” Leyson said. “I don’t want to focus on that, but he’s definitely our most dynamic offensive player.”

Grab “has potential to be really effective in the attack” and Nicholson, who scored 28 times last season, is expected to be one of the team’s main center players.

“(Nicholson) is very effective at that position,” Leyson explained. “He has gotten a lot stronger and a lot better. I’m expecting huge contributions from him. He’s one of our three seniors. He’s a leader in the water.”

Beside Nicholson and Richardson, that other senior is defender Michael Wright — yep, another gift from Davis High.

“He’s a director on defense,” Leyson said of Wright. “Another leader in the water who leads by example. He works very, very hard. I am expecting big contributions from him, too — not only defensively, but on the attacking end. He’s a really good 6-on-5 post player and can shoot from the outside … also post up.”

Leyson loves his freshman and JC-transfer additions and points to Talon Gay (Marrieta Valley High), Cory Laidig (Agoura High) and Shawn Welch (St. Francis High of Mountain View) as guys “who could contribute right away.”

Veterans like attacker Austin Beckwith (21 goals in 2013) and defender Wes Lincoln also drew Leyson’s praise. Two-meter menace Tennyson May is a sophomore who, at 6-foot-7, could emerge.

“We have a tough schedule,” Leyson concluded. “But we always have a tough schedule. To play USC right off the bat, the national champion six times in a row … it’s a big challenge.”

At least the Trojans graduated their five All-Americans.

Notes: Michael Wright is the son of UC Davis women’s water polo coach Jamey Wright and ex-Aggie pool star Nancy Corstorphine Wright. … Four goalkeepers are in camp. Phillip Bates, the Santa Barbara native who started 20 games last fall, is joined by West Valley College transfer Nico Chapman, redshirt freshman Jake Becker (Wilson High of Long Beach) and true frosh Spencer Creed, a 6-4 stopper from Las Lomas High. … Leyson said he talked with USC coach Jovan Vavic on Monday night. Admitting it was fun to catch up with his old boss, Leyson added: “Here’s what I expect from USC — no favors.” … WWPA members Loyola Marymount (No. 14) and Santa Clara (No. 17) earned national rankings, with Air Force and Cal Baptist receiving votes.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-320-4456.

Comments

comments

Bruce Gallaudet

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Community Meals needs cooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Send kids to camp!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Wise words

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    Awareness is key to this fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Where is this going?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

    We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

     
    Options for protection come with flu season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

     
    Don’t sell city greenbelt

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino project is flawed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Archer will get my vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Mike Keefe cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Building something at schools’ HQ

    By Our View | From Page: A10

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Maybe David can beat Goliath again

    By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

     
    Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    ‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

    Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    .

    Business

    UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Styles on target for November debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

    MBI hires VP of marketing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

    By Rob White | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8