Title Defense Begins as No. 1 Seed
Women's water polo will look for their third straight conference title at the WWPA Championship starting this Friday as they earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
April 23, 2003
The Loyola Marymount University women's water polo team concluded the 2003 regular season with a record of 20-8. It is the third straight season the Lions have earned 20 or more wins as they head into the 2003 Western Water Polo Association Championship as the top seed. The Lions will begin the defense of their back-to-back WWPA titles on Friday when they take on the winner of the play-in game between Chapman and Cal State Hayward.
The Lions finished the 2003 season with a perfect 8-0 record against teams in the Western Water Polo Association. Thanks to the perfect mark and the number six ranking in the nation, the Lions earned the top seed in this weekend's WWPA tournament held at Cal State Bakersfield running on April 25-27. The winner will earn the automatic bid to the 2003 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship in San Diego on May 10-11. The Lions will open against either Chapman or Cal State Hayward in the final game of the day at 5:00 p.m. The Lions are 3-0 all-time against Hayward and 2-0 against Chapman. Other first round matches will be Cal State Hayward against Chapman (5-17) at 12:00 p.m., followed by No. 2 UC Davis (18-10) vs. No. 7 UC Santa Cruz (5-24) at 1:15 p.m., No. 3 UC San Diego (22-13) vs. No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino (20-13) at 2:30 p.m., and No. 4 Cal State Bakersfield (15-20) against No. 5 Santa Clara (15-19) at 3:45 p.m. LMU is 6-0 against the teams in the field this season, defeating UC San Diego (twice), UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz and Cal State Bakersfield by a combined score of 61-15.
vs. USC... Trailing by three goals entering the fourth quarter, the sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount University women's water polo team scored three unanswered goals to tie second-ranked USC 6-6 with 2:04 remaining. However, Katrin Kierolf scored the game winner for the Trojans with 1:11 remaining in the game to give USC the 7-6 win at Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans (22-3) would take a 3-2 halftime lead and stretch it to 6-3 at the end of the third period thanks to a pair of goals from Moriah Van Norman and another by Liz Simms. Van Norman finished the game with three goals. However, LMU (20-8) would not go away. Freshman Katie Hicks would score her third goal of the day with 6:27 remaining in the game to make the score 6-4. Immediately following the end of a six-on-five attack, junior Jamie Kroeze would score with 2:50 remaining to make it a one goal game. Junior Teresa Guidi would then tie the game at 6-6 with a goal from the point at four meters with 2:04 remaining. USC would call a timeout and after the Lions had a chance to take their first lead of the game, Kierolf would pass it to Simms on the outside and then take a perfect feed from Simms at two-meter for the win. LMU's Hicks had one last chance to tie it from four meters, but her shot was stopped by USC goalie Kelly Graff with four seconds left on the clock.
In the Rankings
The Lions continued to move up the ranks of the nation's elite as they were ranked sixth in the 2003 preseason poll by the American Water Polo Coaches' Association and retained that ranking for the first five weeks of the season. The Lions, who dropped to No. 7 in the nation for the next five weeks, moved back to No. 6 with the 13-game winning streak, eight coming against teams in the top-20. LMU will be looking for their third straight trip to the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship. The number six ranking is the highest since they finished last season ranked seventh in the nation while defeating Michigan in the third place game of the 2002 NCAA Championship.
On the Defensive
Freshman goalie Rachel Riddell has become one of the top goalies in the nation. During the Lions' 13-game winning streak, Riddell has lowered her goals against average over two goals a game to 4.00. After starting the month of March with a 2-3 record, Riddell, who started in goal every game the last two months for the sixth-ranked Lions, has goals against average of a staggering 2.31, holding opponents to a pair of goals or less in eight of the last 14 games. At one point in the winning streak she allowed just one goal in the first half of eight straight games.
Making a Statement
Several experienced newcomers are making an instant impact in their first season at LMU. Junior college transfers Devon Wright and Neisha Hoagland are among the team leaders in goals. Wright is second on the team with 38 goals on 93 shots (40.9 percent). She is 11th all-time for goals in a season. Hoagland is shooting 40.0 percent, scoring 16 goals on the year and adding 27 steals.
Freshman Katie Hicks is concluding a memorable first season of collegiate water polo. The native of San Luis Obispo leads the team with 46 goals, earning her eighth hat-trick of the season against USC on Saturday. She is currently ranked sixth all-time for goals in a single season in LMU history, tying teammate Christina Radvanyi, who had 46 in her freshman season in 2000. In addition, Hicks has a shooting percentage of 42.6, second best on the team when compared to players who have 10 or more goals on the season. Sophomore Jessica Conner continues a solid young career while in her second season at LMU, scoring 22 goals with 34 steals. Junior Teresa Guidi continues to become one of the Lions' all-time leading scorers. Guidi has added 25 this season to give her 104 in her career (fourth all-time at LMU).
Saturday's game against USC was the final home game for seniors Julia Wald and Christina Radvanyi. A four-year letterwinner from Fullerton, Calif., Wald has 117 career goals, ranked third in LMU history. In addition, she is ranked third all-time in assists with 60 and shot attempts with 326. Her 59 goals as a freshman in 2000 is the second most in a single season in LMU history. Radvanyi is tied for fifth with 66 goals in her four-year career at LMU. Like Wald, her freshman season ranks as one of the best in program history. She scored 46 goals in 2000 and added 22 assists, both ranked sixth best in a single season. Equally impressive was her shooting percentage of 54 percent during her 46-goal season.
Out of the Gates
Thanks to the tough LMU defense, which allows just over four goals per game, the Lions have gotten out of the gates quickly. The Lions have outscored opponents 68-32 in the first quarter alone, more than doubling their opponents' offensive output. While the first quarter has been the best offensive quarter of the season, the Lions' second quarter has been their best defensively. They have held opponents to just 22 goals in the second quarter while scoring 57. Combined in the first half, the Lions hold a 125 to 54 edge in scoring. On the season, LMU has almost doubled their opponents' offensive output, scoring 227 goals to their opponents' 116.
The Lions became just the fourth team in LMU history to claim back-to-back conference championships with three convincing wins in the Western Water Polo Association championships held April 26-28 at UC Santa Cruz. The Lions outscored their opponents 38-6 during the tournament to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Final Four. The Lions defended their Western Water Polo Association title on Sunday with a 8-4 win over No. 9 UC San Diego to receive their second-straight automatic bid. Freshman Jessica Conner led the Lions in scoring in the championship game with three goals. Sophomore utility player Jamie Kroeze put a pair of goals in the cage, which was supplemented by solo goals from Guidi, Windes and Christina Radvanyi. With a 4-3 halftime lead the Lions pulled away in the third quarter with three goals. UCSD put one goal away early in the fourth period to bring the score to 7-4. LMU would get the goal right back to seal the victory.
Following the 2002 WWPA tournament, the Lions once again dominated the postseason awards. LMU's all-time leading goalie, Devon Courtney, was named the WWPA Player of the Year. She played in all but one quarter in front of the Lions' cage throughout the season. During the WWPA tournament she allowed only six goals total. Lucy Windes, who was last year's Player of the Year, joined fellow senior Courtney as a first-team All-WWPA selection. Sophomore Teresa Guidi and Senior Orla Stewart were named second-team All-Conference, while sophomore Jamie Kroeze was named honorable mention. It was Guidi's second straight selection. LMU Head Coach John Loughran was named the WWPA Coach of the Year for the second-straight season, leading the Lions to their second straight conference title. They added to the list of accomplishments when Windes was a NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship first-team All-Tournament selection. Guidi was also recognized as a second-team All-Tournament selection.
John Loughran began his sixth season at the helm of the women's water polo program at Loyola Marymount University in 2003 and with a 15-4 win over Cal State Bakersfield on March 22, he earned his 100th career win while with the program. In his tenure as the head coach of all three Lions' aquatics programs, Loughran has posted total success. He has now earned the Western Water Polo Association women's water polo coach of the year in the last two seasons for guiding the Lions to back-to-back conference titles. The women's team ended the national championship in third place in 2001 and 2002. Loughran has earned three straight winning seasons and with 18 wins in 2003, he is two shy of posting three straight 20-win campaigns. His career record sits at 110-63 (.636). Prior to arriving at Loyola Marymount, Loughran led the Queens College men's water polo team to a 75-63 overall record in five seasons. Queens posted a 25-7 mark in 1995, a 20-5 record in 1996, and won the College Water Polo Association (CWPA) North Division title both years. Queens finished each of Loughran's last two seasons ranked 15th nationally, the highest ranking in program history.
- GO LIONS -
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