Complete Game Puts Lions Back in Title Game
A familiar championship Sunday has been set thanks to Lions 11-9 win over UC Davis.
LOS ANGELES - The second half has been a major hurdle the LMU men's water polo team has struggled to get over in the 2014 season. They picked the perfect moment to break through, scoring seven second half goals to earn an 11-9 win over No. 2 seed UC Davis in the second semifinal of the 2014 Western Water Polo Association Championships on Saturday afternoon at the Burns Aquatics Center.
The Lions, who had second half leads in all three of their setbacks in WWPA play this season, outscored the Aggies 4-1 in the third quarter to take the lead, one they didn't let go of the rest of the way.
"This was the most complete game we have played in two years," said Head Coach John Loughran. "We played four great quarters and made very few mistakes. It was was the best team polo we have played and after a three-year hiatus, we are back in the title game on Sunday."
LMU returns to the title game for the first time since 2010 and sets-up a final with long-time rival UC San Diego. The two have played 58 times, including eight times in the WWPA title game. The championship is set for 1 pm on Sunday.
"We really came together at the right time," said Loughran. "We never panicked and really kept to our game plan all game. We kept running our offense and we broke through."
UC Davis took an early 2-0 lead and seemed to keep the Lions at arms length through the second quarter, leading 5-3 with 2:14 to play. LMU's Liam Jennis scored a 6-on-5 goal with 1:47 to play in the first half to make it 5-4 in favor of the Aggies.
The goal would kick start the Lions for the second half.
Matt Cuozzo tied the game, 5-5, just over a minute into the third quarter. Then 40 seconds later Milutin Mitrovic scored one of his five goals on another 6-on-5 goal to give the Lions their first lead of the game. Emanuel Di Stasio and Jon Beck tacked on two more to give the Lions five straight to take a commanding 8-5 lead.
Michael Wright scored one of his two goals with 4:25 to play in the game to cut the Lions' lead to 8-7. Jennis, who had three goals, answered over a minute later to make it 9-7. UC Davis wasn't done, scoring again, this time from Lyle Kipp, with 2:22 to play to make it 9-8.
The Lions' Vuk Cvetkovic then drew his second penalty of the game and Mitrovic saw his five-meter saved by goalie Spencer Creed. However, the rebound went straight to Mitrovic, who buried the shot to put the game out of reach at 10-8 with 1:15 to play.
Tickets to the 2014 WWPA Championships are on sale online at www.LMULions.com/Tickets.
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