Lions Lean on the Familiar to Reach Title Game
Women's water polo relies on big game experience and defense to advance to 13th straight WWPA title game.
April 27, 2013
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For the 11th-ranked LMU women's water polo team, the two regular season match-ups against rival Santa Clara had seen LMU use tough defense to pullout hard fought victories.
They dusted off the script one more time, this time for an 8-5 win over the Broncos at the Sullivan Aquatics Center in the second semifinal of the 2013 Western Water Polo Association semifinals Saturday afternoon.
For the Lions, the win was familiar in many ways as their defense and, despite a young team, championship experience came through when it mattered most.
"Santa Clara runs a great program up here and they played out of their minds today and they held us in check for most of the game," said Head Coach Kyle Witt. "I think our championship experience took over, especially in the fourth quarter. A lot of our girls figured out how to finish their plays and execute in their defense. We really dominated them in the second half on defense."
The win puts the Lions back into the WWPA title game for the 13th straight year, the fourth straight year against UC San Diego, who was a 14-6 winner over Colorado State in the first semifinal. The title game is set for 2 p.m.
"Tomorrow we have to play as a team. Simple mistakes hurt us, and if we fix those it will be a great championship game," said Witt. "Our defense will be a key to it. I am excited that this young team will have this opportunity."
In addition, the Lions improve to 20-12 on the season, giving them 13 straight 20-win seasons.
The Lions had to earn that 20th win as Santa Clara scored first and led 1-0, 2-1 and then again at 4-3 with 5:02 to go in the first half.
LMU would draw a 6-on-5 opportunity and junior Alexandra Honny would take advantage, giving the Lions a 6-4 lead just 30 seconds into the second half. A penalty goal from the Broncos with 4:58 to play in the third quarter made it 6-5.
That would be it for the Broncos. LMU would hold Santa Clara without a goal the final 13 minutes of the game. Honny would score her second of the half and third of the game with eight seconds left to give LMU a 7-5 lead.
Laura Lopez gave the Lions a big three-goal cushion with 4:29 to play in the game and the Lions would kill a pair of 6-on-5 chances for the Broncos to keep them off the board. LMU would not allow a 6-on-5 goal on the game, holding Santa Clara 0-for-8. The Lions have held opponents to 3-for-18 on the weekend. Goalie Claire Wright finished with nine saves, three in the fourth quarter.