Sept. 16, 2010
The NorCal Open is the first of two major tournaments on the water polo season that serve as a major national measuring stick to where teams stand. Each year the SoCal and NorCal invitationals feature 16 of the best teams in the nation, and this year will be no different. LMU will head to the 2010 NorCal Open hosted by Cal on Sept. 18-19 and have been placed in a group featuring No. 1 Cal, No. 9 Pepperdine and Pomona-Pitzer. The Lions will open the tournament against Pepperdine, taking on the Waves for the second time in a week at 9:20 a.m., Saturday. Follow alll the action on the NorCal Open webpage.
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INSIDE THE LIONS
The eighth-ranked Lions have started the 2010 season with a 4-2 mark, splitting a pair of games against the nation's top-10 last weekend. The Lions earned Head Coach John Loughran his 300th career win with a 7-6 victory over No. 9 Pepperdine on Saturday. It was the Lions' first-ever win at Pepperdine's Runnel pool. LMU then played their first home game of the season, and after leading the entire first half, fell 10-5 to the defending national champions. Senior goalie Andy Stevens made 25 saves, giving him 63 in five games worth of action. After being one of the nation's leaders all 2009 in defense, allowing just 6.13 per game, the Lions enter the weekend allowing just 5.67 goals per game. Senior Ikaika Aki provides big help in front of the net for Stevens, opening the season with eight field blocks, 11 steals and spear-heading the offense with a team-best 10 assists. He adds four goals in the process and has also earn a WWPA Player of the Week honor, earning it on Sept. 8. Senior Tibor Forai leads the Lions with 13 goals, while junior Edgaras Asajavicius, is second on the team with nine goals. Forai now ranks 6th all-time with 156 career goals while Aki has moved to 7th and 5th with 74 assists and 125 steals, respectively.
It has become one of the toughest tournament's in the nation, and 2010 will be no different. The NorCal Open will feature 16 teams, 15 who are currently in the nation's top-20 coaches' poll. The top-11 are in the tournament (Cal, UCLA, Stanford, USC, UC Irvine, UCSB, Pacific, LMU, Pepperdine, Long Beach St., and UC San Diego), along with No. 15 (UC Davis), No. 16 (Navy), No. 18 (Santa Clara) and No. 19 (Air Force). The Lions are in group A and will take on Pepperdine at Spieker Aquatics Complex, which is also site of the 2010 NCAA Championships, on Saturday at 9:20 a.m. Cal will open with Pomona-Pitzer at 8 a.m. The losers of the first two games will play at 1:20 p.m., with the winners playing at 2:40 p.m.
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