April 27, 2006
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The sixth-ranked Loyola Marymount women's water polo team closed out the 2006 regular season with its best overall record (based on percentage) in school history at 23-4 (.852) thanks to a 9-8 win over seventh-ranked UC Irvine in four overtimes. It was the longest game in program history and the Lions will now focus their attention on winning their sixth straight Western Water Polo Association Championship. The Lions will be the number one seed in the upcoming WWPA tournament Apr. 28-30. UC San Diego is hosting as the Lions will have a bye and will play Cal State East Bay and UC Santa Cruz at 5:30 p.m.
Scouting the Lions
The Lions earned their sixth straight 20-win season as they enter the 2006 WWPA Women's Water Polo Championship with a 23-4 overall record and 9-0 in the WWPA. The Lions' success this season has been due to their depth and defense. To begin the season, LMU was led in large part to All-American goalie Rachel Riddell. She started the season leading the nation with 135 saves and a 12.2 spg average through 11 games. However, she has had to miss the last 16 due to an elbow injury. The Lions didn't miss a beat as junior Katie Murray returned to the cage for the first time since leading them to the national title game in 2004. She allowed a mere 13 goals in four games at the LMU Invitational and has a goals against average of just 4.50 in 16 games. She has made 130 saves on the season while allowing just 72 goals. With a solid anchor in net, the Lions defense has thrived, ranking fourth in the nation with 4.74 goals per contest. The Lions' offense continues to climb the charts as well, ranking 13th with 8.8 gpg. LMU is led by junior Katie Hicks with 51 goals while sophomore Christine Robinson is second with 37 goals. There is a strong supporting cast behind them as freshman Nicole Hughes has turned some heads with 29 goals in her first season, ranking third on the team. She is followed by sophomore Rosanna Tomiuk (23), junior Cara Colton (22), and junior Dora Szabolcsi (14).
With a 9-0 mark against WWPA opponents this season, the Lions once again earned the number one seed for the WWPA Championships in La Jolla, Calif. The Lions will take on the winner of No. 8 seed Cal State East Bay and No. 9 seed UC Santa Cruz. Also on the Lions half of the bracket is No. 4 seed UC San Diego, No. 5 Cal State San Bernardino and No. 12 Cal State Monterey Bay. Rounding out the seeding is No. 2 UC Davis, No. 3 Santa Clara, No. 6 Sonoma State, No. 7 Cal State Bakersfield, No. 10 Chapman and No. 11 Colorado State.
Katie Hicks and Christine Robinson have been leading the charge this season as Hicks is first on the team with 51 goals and Robinson second with 37. With her first five-goal game against Colorado State, Robinson moved into the top-10 all-time goal scorers. She is currently ninth with 85 carer goals. She joins a list that contains Hicks, who moved to third with three goals against UCSB. She now has 155 career goals, replacing current assistant coach Teresa Guidi for third all-time in LMU history. Teammate Stacia Peterson, who has scored seven goals in seven games this season, moved her career total to 161, second best at LMU.
A Record String
The women's water polo program has arguably become the most successful in LMU history as they have claimed five straight conference championships. In the 92-plus year history of LMU athletics, only volleyball and baseball come close to the Lions' dominance with three straight titles. Women's volleyball won three straight titles in 1994, 1995 and 1996 while baseball did it in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Women's water polo team, with titles in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, have posted six-straight 20-win seasons, seven-straight winning seasons and with the 23-4 record so far this season, they have compiled a record of 144-41 (.784) the last five-plus years.
With the wins in the 2005 NCAA tournament, LMU secured a 30-win season for the first time in program history. The Lions enter 2006 winners of five straight Western Water Polo Association Championships, the most consecutive titles by any program in school history. With the success in 2006, the Lions have earned seven straight winning seasons and six straight seasons with 20 or more wins. Head Coach John Loughran has helped his team set a program record for wins in a season in five of the last six seasons. Loughran, a four-time WWPA Coach of the Year, led the Lions to its first winning season of 18-16 in 2000 and they have been rolling ever since. They claimed their first 20-win season in 2001 with a 23-7 mark. They followed that with a 21-8 record. They broke the wins mark at 24-9 in 2003 and then did one better in 2004 at 25-6. This season's winning percentage of 85.2 is also a program best. This season the Lions used a 13-game winning streak, tied for best in the program's history, to eclipse the 20-win level once again.
Junior goalie Rachel Riddell, who took the 2004 season off to play for the Canadian National Team in the Olympics last summer, was named the 2005 Western Water Polo Association Player of the Year. She made 14 saves in both the semifinal win over Santa Clara and in the title game against UC Davis. She allowed just seven goals in three games for the Lions in the tournament. Riddell has helped the Lions to a 4.7 goals against average this season, ranking third in the nation. She was joined on the All-WWPA first-team by Stacia Peterson and Katie Hicks. Earning second-team All-WWPA honors was freshman Christine Robinson. Hicks finished second with 51 goals and Robinson third with 48.
The 2005 Tourney
The 2005 edition of the NCAA tournament had a new look, expanding from four teams to eight in a three-day format. In addition, the three conference automatic qualification bids in the past have expanded to five. The Lions earned the bid from the Western Water Polo Association, one of the three original conferences with automatic bids. The Lions finished the tournament going 2-1, earning wins over Wagner (16-4) and Michigan (10-5) while falling to fourth-ranked Hawaii (12-8) in the opener. LMU took fifth place in the tournament thanks to a six-goal second quarter over Michigan that took place in a span of just three minutes in the second quarter. Junior Stacia Peterson and freshman Rosanna Tomiuk claimed second-team honors following the fifth annual NCAA tournament. Peterson had a record-breaking tournament in 2005, as her five goals in the win over Wagner set the NCAA Tournament single game record. Peterson added four goals in the tough loss to Hawaii and one more in the win over Michigan to give her 10 on the tournament. Her 10 sets the record for goals in a single tournament, breaking the previous record of five. Entering into this year's championships, Peterson had scored five goals in NCAA tournament. She now has a total of 15 in her career, setting a career record in the NCAA tournament.
Senior Stacia Peterson and junior Rachel Riddell of the Loyola Marymount University women's water polo team were named 2005 All-Americans by the American Water Polo Coaches Association. Peterson set the all-time school record with 75 goals this season while Riddell was named Western Water Polo Association Player of the Year. For the fourth straight year the Lions had multiple selection on the All-America teams as Peterson claims second-team honors and Riddell was an honorable mention selection. It is the second time for both players to be named All-America. Peterson, who was a third-team selection in 2004, finished 13th in the nation with 75 goals, giving her 154 in her three-year career, ranking her second all-time in LMU history in career goals.
Three Loyola Marymount women's water polo players took the month of January off, the first month of practice for the collegiate teams, to compete for the Canadian National Team at the 2006 Commonwealth Water Polo Championships held in Perth, Australia, this week. And they made quite an impact. Junior Rachel Riddell and sophomores Christine Robinson and Rosanna Tomiuk continue their active role with the Canadian National Team as they make another international trip to compete across the globe. All three played for the national team over the summer while Riddell and Robinson played for the team in the 2004 Summer Olympics. The trio of Lions have help Canada once again find success as they advance to the championship game against Australia. The field for the Commonwealth Games includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Scotland, England, and South Africa. Robinson scored six goals for Canada to reach the semifinals in a 19-0 win over Singapore. She added two more as the Canadians earned a 9-7 win over New Zealand to advance to the finals. She was sixth overall in the tournament with 17 goals. Tomiuk finished tied for 22nd in the field with 10 goals, scoring four against Singapore and three against Scotland. On the defensive side, Riddell led all goalies in the Commonwealth Games with 41 saves. She helped Canada post three shutouts in the tournament.
Head Coach John Loughran
Entering his ninth season at the helm of the women's water polo program, Loughran has achieved unparalleled success for the Lions. In 2005 the women's water program set a school record for wins with a 30-7 overall mark on the season. The team won its fifth straight Western Water Polo Association championship and advanced to their fifth consecutive NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship. The successes in 2004 and 2005 were just another step in the accolades Loughran has brought to the program. He has led the team to five straight 20-win seasons and six straight winning campaigns. He has earned four WWPA Coach of the Year honors and has coached the last five WWPA Players of the Year and has had 12 Americans, 23 All-WWPA selections and 12 All-NCAA Tournament selections. His career record reflects his success with the women's program with a career mark of 196-81 (.709). Loughran has also led the men's water polo program to a new level of success. Taking over the program in the 1997 season, Loughran led the Lions to its first WWPA Championship in 2001 and then three straight titles in 2003, 2004 and 2005. With the men's program he has compiled a record of 152-120 in nine seasons. In addition, Loughran has established home "pool" advantage for the water polo programs as the women's team has gone 61-10 (.859) at the Burns Recreation and Aquatics Center.
- GO LIONS -