Slow Start Hinders Lions at NCAAs

Erin Manke

May 11, 2012

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SAN DIEGO - Defense was once again at a premium for the seventh-ranked LMU women's water polo team, however, and it was an early three-goal outburst by sixth-ranked UC Irvine that was the difference. The Anteaters held on for an 8-6 win in the final quarterfinal of the 2012 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championships at San Diego State's Aztec Aquaplex on Saturday later afternoon.

UC Irvine scored the games first three goals and managed to keep the Lions from getting an equalizer the rest of the way as both teams were held scoreless in the final quarter. Senior goalie Elise Ponce had 10 saves while UC Irvine freshman goalie Jillian Yocum made 13 saves, including four in the fourth quarter.

Erin Manke and Kimberly Benedetti had two goals each while Mackenzie Beck and Alexandra Honny added a goal. Jessy Cardey and Hannah Croghan had two each for the Anteaters.

"It was very good to be back here at San Diego State, but it wasn't to be today," said Head Coach Kyle Witt. "I give a lot of credit to UC Irvine. They did a great job of preparing for us and taking away some of our strengths."

Danielle Warde, Kelsey Klatt and Croghan scored three unanswered goals to start the game, putting the Lions in a 3-0 hole with 2:59 to play.

After an LMU timeout, Manke cut the lead to 3-1 with 2:40 to play.

"The slow start put us behind early, and forced us to use an early timeout, but I thought the rest of the way the teams played very even and we had our chances," said Witt. "We played really hard, but our shots were not falling. Whether it was because of good goalie play or a bar out or bad luck, it wasn't our day."

The teams would trade goals and the Anteaters took another three-goal lead at 5-2 with 4:05 to play.

LMU would get their only back-to-back goals on the day - the first by Manke with 3:48 to play in the half and then Beck with 45 second to go in the first half - to cut the lead to 5-4.

However, UCI started a trend they would hold the rest of the day, answering the Lions and keeping them two goals down. Michaela Pierandozzi scored with just 28 seconds to play in the half for a 6-4 lead.

Benedetti would open the second half with her second goal of the day to cut the lead to 6-5 less than a minute into the third quarter. The Lions would have a chance on a 6-on-5 to get the equalizer by Yocum came up with a save.

Cardey would get the lead back to a pair on a 6-on-5 goal for the Anteaters, scoring with 5:32 to play in the quarter, making the score 7-5. Two minutes later Honny would answer to cut the lead to one, 7-6, with 3:24 to play.

Croghan would answer the Lions again on the next possession with the final goal of the game, making it 8-6 with 2:59 to go in the quarter.

The defenses would keep the score the same the rest of the way as the goalie combined for seven saves, including a penalty shot save by Ponce.

The Lions will take on Pomona-Pitzer in the Consolation Semifinals at 1:45 p.m., Saturday as the tournament continues from San Diego State.





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