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MALIBU, Calif. - The Wells Fargo PCH Cup rivalry between LMU and Pepperdine continues to grow as for the third time in four meetings the men's water polo match-up would come down to the final seconds - this one coming down to within a tenth of a second.
Tailing by three goals to the eighth-ranked Waves midway through the final quarter, LMU was looking for the tying goal when they took over possession with less than three seconds on the clock.
They needed about 3.1.
Freshman Milutin Mitrovic attempted a tip-in of senior Robert Pusic's shot at the buzzer, but it was just a tick late, as LMU falls to the Waves, 8-7, at Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool in Malibu on Saturday afternoon.
Mitrovic scored three goals for the Lions while senior goalie Kyle Testman kept the Lions within striking distance all game, making 14 saves. The Lions are 1-1 on the young season while Pepperdine is 3-0.
"I though it was the first four minutes of the third quarter that was the difference," said Head Coach John Loughran. "We came out flat defensively and they scored some goals that really didn't go in during the first half. Our guys played flat the first four minutes of the third quarter and it cost us the game."
The Lions held a 4-3 lead at the break thanks to Peter Olson's goal with two minutes to play in the first half. However, Pepperdine scored the only two goals of the third quarter to take a 5-4 lead heading into the final frame.
"We showed some good character to come back in the fourth quarter," said Loughran. "But again they scored some goals in the fourth quarter that really shouldn't have gone in. I thought our defense had some letdowns that was a little disheartening. Overall we had a solid team effort and now we have to build on this and work on our defense heading into NorCals."
Trailing 5-4, Mitrovic scored on his second five-meter to tie the game at 5-5 just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter. Pepperdine would then score three unanswered to take an 8-5 lead with 4:23 to play.
The comeback would begin with Seth Coldren's shot from about six meters making it 8-6 with 3:08 to play. After a big Testman save,sophomore Joe Ferretti would get the Lions to within one with a goal just 38 seconds later.
The Lions would have a 6-on-5 opportunity with 1:46 to play, but Pepperdine would win a battle for a loose ball after goalie Bence Valics could not secure the save. LMU would take the ball again with 50 seconds on the clock but would turn it over with 33 seconds left in the game.
After Pepperdine ran the 30-second shot clock to zero, the Lions called a timeout and took possession at half-tank for the final exchange.
LMU will continue its tour of top-20 opponents when they play in the 2012 NorCal Invitational hosted by Stanford, Sept. 15-16.
#8 Pepperdine 8, #10 LMU 7
#10 LMU --- 1 - 3 - 0 - 3 --- 7
#8 PEP --- 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 --- 8
SCORING: LMU - Milutin Mitrovic 3, Seth Coldren, Vuk Cvetkovic, Peter Olson, Joe Ferretti. PEP - Stephen Loomis 3, Marko Madaras 2, Matthew De Trane 2, Sencer Hamby.
- GO LIONS -