Men's Water Polo

Defensive Heartbreak

Andy Stevens
Andy Stevens

Dec. 6, 2008

STANFORD, Calif. - The Loyola Marymount defense had Stanford completely frustrated. Goalie Andy Stevens and two-meter Brian Benedetti had the Lions on the verge of a national title appearance. However, Jeffrey Schwimer's goal with 18 seconds remaining sent second-seeded Stanford to 6-5 victory over third-seeded Loyola Marymount.

The final goal came on a successful counterattack, as Janson Wigo found Schwimer with room to work in the front of the net. Schwimer's shot, aimed high, came too fast for LMU goalkeeper Andy Stevens and found its way past the line for Stanford's first lead since it was 1-0 just over two minutes into the game.

With LMU possessing one final chance, Sandman made the point-blank save of a Benedetti's shot with four seconds on the clock and completed a stretch of 12:08 in which it had kept the Lions off of the scoreboard.

Stevens made 14 saves on the night and was supported by a defense which frustrated the Cardinal attack with numerous field blocks that prevented Stanford from building any momentum.

"Our defensive was a real important part of our gameplan. Andy is outstanding and if we can frustrate their shooters with their shots not even getting to the cage, then that would help us out," said Head Coach John Loughran, whose Lions have suffered one-goal setbacks to Stanford in two of the last three NCAA semifinal appearances. "We stuck to our gameplan, played great defensively and our goalie was outstanding. There were just a few breaks that didn't go our way and we couldn't go up by two goals. I think if we could have gone up by two goals in the fourth period, we would have had a better opportunity to win that game."

It was a true back-and-forth contest as the Cardinal, on the power play, opened the scoring 2:25 into the game as Drac Wigo whipped a backhand shot past Stevens for the 1-0 lead. Yet the Lions would counter just 14 seconds later on Benedetti's first goal of the game.



The Lions would build that lead to 2-1 with 3:05 remaining in the first period on Tim Hummel's 6-on-5 goal. The teams would continue battling as the first period ended with the scoreboard showing LMU ahead by a score, and it would stay that way into the opening minutes of the second until Stanford would equalize.

Cody Wiesen converted what would be his lone goal of the day with 5:56 to go before halftime, but once again, the Cardinal's momentum would be short-lived as Benedetti rifled a shot past Sandman to reclaim the lead for the Lions.

Will Hindle-Katel would manage to tie things at 3-3 with 3:25 to play, and the teams would go into the half deadlocked.

The second half would begin with the Lions needing only 53 seconds to go back in front, as Tim Heafner's shot found its way into the cage to make it 4-3.

After a few more traded possessions, the Cardinal managed to equalize once more as Sage Wright found a hole under Stevens for his only goal of the contest. Yet once more, it did not take long for LMU to get ahead, scoring just over a minute later behind the arm of Andrew Aki with 4:08 to play in the third period.

The final 6:24 was fraught with tension as the teams traded shot after shot, with Stevens making a clutch save on a five-meter penalty shot from Drac Wigo minutes before Schwimer would finally break the stalemate and get the deciding goal that would send the Cardinal into the national final.

The Lions will play Navy in the consolation final 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.



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