Feb. 24, 2013
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IRVINE, Calif. -- Roughly a month into the 2013 water polo season, the growth process for the young LMU women's water polo team took some huge strides forward thanks to a sweep in the final day of the 2013 UC Irvine Invitational on Sunday. The Lions defeated No. 9 San Jose State 10-9, then knocked off No. 14 UC Davis, 9-5, in the ninth place game.
The 16th-ranked Lions once again relied on balance on the day to improve to 9-5 on the season. Senior Jessica Morelos led the Lions with four goals in the win over the Spartans. Sophomore Mackenzie Beck scored three for the Lions in the win over the Aggies in the ninth place game. The 16-team field in the UCI Invitational featured 15 ranked teams, including the entire top-10.
"We had a very balanced weekend," said Head Coach Kyle Witt. "It was very much a team effort all weekend. Everything we did, they did it as a unity. We complimented each other very well."
After setbacks early in the season that came in the fourth quarter, the Lions showed their quick growth with impressive second half performances. Against the Spartans the Lions erased a one-goal deficit in the fourth quarter by doubling up San Jose State, while the Lions outscored UC Davis 6-2 in the second half to pull away for the win.
"The entire season is going to be about learning," said Witt. "With such a young team, each day we have to continue moving towards working as a group, trusting each other and trusting the LMU system. They took big steps in that this weekend. However, with conference play looming, we can't be happy with where we are. We have to keep moving forward and getting better."
The Lions got a big boost in goal from transfer Jordan White
, playing in place of injured starter Claire Wright
. The Lions allowed an average of just seven goals in their three wins on the weekend.
"Our defense is getting much better and is coming to form," said Witt. "And our offense is starting to click."
In the opener on Sunday, the Lions trailed early, 2-1. Both teams played even in the second and third quarters as the Lions tailed 7-6 entering the fourth quarter.
The offense came to live with its best quarter of the game, scoring four goals to build a lead midway through the quarter they wouldn't let go of. In addition to Morelos' four goals, sophomore Laura Lopez added a pair.
In the ninth place game, defense ruled the first half as the teams were tied at 3-3 at the break.
LMU's offense once again came to life in the second half while the defense continued to shutdown the Aggies. White and the defense allowed just two goals int he second half while LMU scored three in both the third and fourth quarters for the big win.
The Lions will head back to La Jolla, Calif., on Friday, March 1 for a key Western Water Polo Association battle against 17th-ranked UC San Diego. The Lions will look to erase the earlier 8-7 setback to the Tritons, which was a non-conference match-up in the Triton Invitational on Feb. 9.
- GO LIONS -