Coach of the Year Caps Another Title Season
Kyle Witt earns second straight GCC Coach of the Year as Lions cap another conference championship season.
LOS ANGELES -- The LMU women's water polo program began in 1998, and within four seasons John Loughran had built a champion. Since that season, the Lions have built a tradition of success that is consistent with any title-contending program in the nation. So, it was only fitting that following the 2009 season, Loughran turned the reigns over to one of his former players and that tradition has only grown.
Wrapping up his sixth season with a fourth conference championship, Head Coach Kyle Witt was named the 2015 Golden Coast Conference Coach of the Year, his second straight in the two-year old conference and the third honor he has earned since taking over the program (WWPA Coach of the Year in 2011).
Witt, along with senior Mackenzie Beck, talked with the LMU Sports Network to talk about the finish of another successful season, the winning tradition of LMU women's water polo and what it has taken to build on to that tradition.
How consistent have the Lions been?
Despite changing conferences, Witt has helped the program to not miss a beat. They finished 22-11 on the season in 2015, the 15th straight season with 20 or more wins. They advanced to the GCC title game for the 16th straight season with an impressive defensive clinic, a 6-3 win over the higher-seeded host, 15th-ranked Pacific.
And with another defensive masterpiece, the Lions defeated 16th-ranked San Diego State, 9-5, to earn the program's second straight GCC title and 11th conference crown since that 2001 season. As has been the staple to the Lions' success, senior leadership and defense carried them to the title. Senior Mackenzie Beck was named MVP of the GCC Championships and was joined on the first-team by junior Ivana Castro and senior goalie Jordan White.
White rose-up and played her best games in the end. She allowed just eight goals in the final eight quarters of the GCC Championships, Her eight goals in the final two games is the lowest since Rachel Riddell allowed just seven in the 2005 WWPA tournament.
The Lions' consistency this season is no fluke. Seniors Laura Lopez, Beck and White combined to play 298 games together, including an all-time record 131 by Lopez and 128 by Beck. Juniors Ivana Castro, Bridgette Alvarez, Erin Byrne, Kingsley Hill and Ashtynn Nelson add to that total, playing in a combined 341 games, including 100 by first-team All-GCC selection Castro.
Lopez and Beck won three titles with the Lions, starting in their freshman season in 2012 when they were both named to the All-Freshman team. And they leave with their names all over the record book.
Lopez led the Lions and was second in the GCC this season with 61 goals, giving her 166 in her career. That total ranks ninth all-time in program history, sitting one spot behind fellow senior Beck and one spot ahead of Castro. Beck finished the season with 58 goals and Castro 57, both in the top-10 in the GCC. Beck is ranked eighth all-time at LMU with 175 goals whir Castro is 10th with 146.
The number of games the Lions played together was also shown in assists. The Lions set the all-time program record with 258 assists in 2015. Hill was second in the GCC with 47 assists, ranking fourth all-time in LMU history for assists in a single season. Lopez and sophomore Kiana Etrata finished tied for fifth in the GCC with 41 assist. Lopez wraps up her career ranked fourth all-time with 110 career assists. Beck is sixth with 88, Castro 10th with 75, Hill 15th with 57 and Etrata 19th with 50.
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