Nov. 18, 2007
USAFA, Colo. - Loyola Marymount is back. They used an impressive fourth quarter rally to defeat ninth-ranked UC Davis 7-6 in the title game of the 2007 Western Water Polo Association Men's Water Polo Championship at Air Force Sunday afternoon. The win gives the Lions their fifth WWPA title in seven seasons and returns them to the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship in two weeks at Stanford.
The fourth battle of the season between LMU and UC Davis was tight throughout as the Aggies took a 6-5 lead into the fourth quarter. Ryan Fair would tie the score at 6-6 with three minutes remaining right after a 6-on-5 opportunity expired. The Lions then set up an isolation play for junior Tim Heafner at two-meter who lobbed a shot over the goalie's head from two meters at the 1:49 for the winner.
"The championship game was a really hard fought, very physical game," said Head Coach John Loughran, who has led the men's program to titles in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and now 2007. "We did a good job of stopping their top players and executing out plays in the fourth quarter."
Fair led the Lions with two goals as Forai, Benedetti, Hummel and Flood also added scores in the win. The Lions improve to 13-15 on the season and avenge three regular season setbacks to the Aggies, all of which came by a combined five goals. UCD falls to 22-7. It was the Aggies first setback to a WWPA opponent on the season, winning 17 straight before falling to the Lions.
"We had good energy through the entire tournament and played really well together," said Loughran, whose team lost 13 of their 15 to teams ranked in the top-10 and in 10 those 13 the Lions held a lead or where tied in the fourth quarter. "Given what we went through this season with tough loses and adversity, they stayed focus on the WWPAs and trained hard. They knew what our ultimate goal was and peaked at the right time."
The Lions jumped out early and led 4-3 after one. UC Davis scored the only goal as both defenses held the other offense without a goal in a quarter. The lone goal of the second made it 4-4 at the break.
The Aggies looked to take control of the game as they put in a pair to just one for the Lions in the third to make it 6-5 and set-up the come back for the Lions.
"For the last three weeks we have been practicing for the tournament and changed some things," said Loughran. "I felt we trained properly for the altitude of Colorado and it was a real benefit for us. We were the stronger team at the end."
The Lions will find out their opponent and seed of the 39th Annual National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship during the selection show on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 10:30 p.m. (ET) on CSTV. The championships will be held at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center on December 1 and 2.
WWPA Championship Game - No. 3 Loyola Marymount 7, No. 1 UC Davis 6
#12 LMU - 4 - 0 - 1 - 2 --- 7
#9 UC Davis --- 3 - 1 - 2 - 0 --- 6
LMU Scoring: Fair 2, Forai, Benedetti, Hummel, Flood, Heafner
UCD Scoring: Arrigo, Wilson, Bennett, Muenter, Eggert, Smith
- GO LIONS -