White Hot Defense
Best defensive effort of season leads Lions back to GCC title game for rematch with San Diego St.
STOCKTON, Calif. - Just six days ago, 17th-ranked LMU wrapped up the regular season with a 9-6 setback at the University of the Pacific, moving the Tigers ahead of the Lions in the final Golden Coast Conference standings.
Six goals was enough in the rematch during the first semifinal of the 2015 GCC Championships. Senior Jordan White (SR/Malibu, CA) had 12 saves and the Lions' stingy defense earned them a 6-3 win over the host at Chris Kjeldsen Pool on Friday afternoon.
"Our defensive effort was one of the best we have had all season, if not the best," said Head Coach Kyle Witt. "We followed the game plan very well and we showed our championship experience with our seniors leading the way."
The Lions (21-11) advance to their second straight GCC Championship game thanks to a defense that gave Pacific (15-10) their first home loss of the season and ended their nine-game winning streak. The Lions are in their 16th straight conference championship, the second in a row within the GCC.
"Jordan really frustrated them early with some great saves and set the tone for our defense," said Witt. "And our defense around her was very solid. Again, this was one of the best all-around team defensive efforts we have had in a long while."
The title game will be held Saturday at 2:30 pm, and will be a rematch of the league's inaugural title match-up. Top-seed and 16th-ranked San Diego State defeated fifth-seed California Baptist, 11-6, to set-up the rematch. The Lions won 10-9 in sudden death overtime at the Burns Aquatics Center a year ago.
LMU scored first on a two-meter goal from senior Mackenzie Beck (SR/Mission Viejo, CA), who would finish with four goals from roughly the same spot to lead all scorers. Byrdie Pye tied the game at 1-1 with 2:43 left in the first quarter. Beck closed the quarter with another in the middle of the Pacific defense to make it 2-1 going into the second quarter.
The Lions would score three more to build a 5-1 lead on Ivana Castro (JR/Commerce, CA)'s goal with 5:10 left in the first half. It would be all the Lions' defense would need.
"We really wanted to get Mackenzie involved from the beginning, and she really caused them fits," said Witt. "She performed like a true senior leader."
Pacific's Karolina Hlavata (FR/Strakonics, Czech Rep.) would break the Lions four-goal run with a 6-on-5 tally with 1:03 left in the half, making the score 5-2 at the break.
LMU would earn the only goal of the third quarter, Beck's fourth from just outside two-meters just 25 seconds into the second half to make it 6-2. The score would stay that way until 2:13 left in the game when Anna Kertes (SR/Csongrad, Hungary) scored to make it 6-3.
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