LA JOLLA, Calif. - In front of a raucous crowd of alumni and fans, the No. 12 University of California San Diego men’s water polo team could not overcome a tough Aggie defense and ultimately dropped a 9-6 decision to eighth-ranked UC Davis in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship title game Sunday at Canyonview Aquatic Center.
UC San Diego, the tourney's second seed, concludes the 2017 season 11-14 overall. The top-seeded Aggies improve to 22-6 and earn the WWPA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in December.
Despite the loss, sophomore goalkeeper Sam Thompson had an outstanding day in the cage, knocking away three of the Aggies' breakaway attempts and stopping a five-meter penalty shot late in the fourth quarter. He made nine saves, tallied three steals and dished out an assist. For his efforts, Thompson was named to the WWPA All-Tournament First Team.
On a breakaway, Milton sprinted down the pool and fired one past UCD goalie R.J. Quigley to put UCSD up 1-0 in the first frame. The Aggies answered two minutes later to knot the game at one. Thompson found Milton on another breakaway sprint and Milton netted his second goal of the day to give the Tritons a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
UC Davis tallied three-straight goals to take a 4-2 lead in the second quarter. UCSD answered with back-to-back goals to tie the game with 2:28 left in the half. The Aggies’ Cory Ladiig socred on a powerplay at the buzzer to give his squad a one-goal advantage at the half.
Neither team could find the back of the net for the first three minutes of the third quarter until UCD netted back-to-back goals to take a 7-4 lead. Munatones found Milton on a powerplay and Milton was able to tally his third goal of the day with one second showing on the clock.
Munatones brought UCSD within one, 7-6, when he scored on a fourth-quarter powerplay, but the Aggies were able to seal the win, notching two goals within the final two minutes.
Quigley made nine saves for UCD while Spencer Galli, Laidig and Olson-Fabbro tallied two goals apiece.
Along with Thompson, Turnbow-Lindenstadt picked up WWPA All-Tournament First Team honors, while Munatones was selected to the second team.
Earlier in the day, Fresno Pacific beat Loyola Marymount by a score of 11-4 in the seventh-place game. Concordia Irvine slipped past Santa Clara, 9-8, in the fifth-place game and Air Force took third-place with a 12-10 victory over California Baptist.
UC Davis 9, UC San Diego 6
UC Davis 1 4 2 2 - 9
UC San Diego 2 1 2 1 - 6
UCD: Spencer Galli 2, Cory Laidig 2, Olson-Fabbro 2, Eric Martel, Jack Stafford, Marcus Anderson.
UCSD: Sam Thompson 9
UCD: R.J. Quigley 9