May 9, 2009

College Park, MD - For just the sixth time all season, senior Nicole Hughes, the all-time leading scorer in LMU history including a record eight in a single game twice, finished a game with just two or fewer goals. However, the Lions didn't need it as they had a balanced scoring sheet and solid defense in a 12-6 win over Cal Lutheran on day two of the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championships at the Campus Recreation Center in College Park, Md.

The Lions, led by Hughes, have put up record scoring numbers in the 2009 season. However, it was their defense, specifically in the third quarter, that paced the win. Junior goalie Eliana Arellano and the Lions' defense shutout Cal Lutheran in the third quarter to turn a two-goal lead at the half into a five-goal cushion. It proved to be the difference.

"Their style of play is a little slower, something we haven't really faced before. At halftime we made some adjustments and really shut them down offensively in the third quarter. That was really the turning point," said Head Coach John Loughran. "Eli did a really good job adjusting to more of a long shot they tend to use. She had some good saves.

The Lions allowed no shots on goal in the third quarter and Arellano finished with five saves. On the offensive side the Lions started out strong but seemed to struggle in getting a rhythm. Sophomore Mary Ann Campos had four goals to lead all scorers. Hughes finished with two goals, as did freshman Casey Flacks and junior Anne Scott.

"We opened the game with five goals in the first quarter, but we just couldn't get into the flow in the second quarter," said Loughran. "We were called for some offensive fouls and turned the ball over. But we adjusted enough and with our third quarter had some separation."

The Lions scored the first three goals of the game and survived ejections on Cal Lutheran's first three offensive possessions to lead 5-2 after the first period. The Lions managed just a single goal while Cal Lutheran scored twice to make it 6-4 at the break.

Then came the turning point. Hughes was called for an ejection and the Lions held after a Cla Lutheran timeout. After the defensive stop, the Lions countered instantly and the speedy Scott scored with 3:48 to play to make it 7-4.

"Our stop on the ejection early in the third and then to counter and score right away was really a big turning point," said Loughran. "It was a two-goal turn around and gave us some cushion to finish strong."

Campos would score with 2:08 to play in the quarter and then with just 21 seconds to play on a penalty shot to build the lead to 9-4 after three. The teams traded goals in the fourth quarter before Flacks and Katlin Sherrin scored in the final minutes for the final margin.

The Lions advance to the consolation finals and will face Michigan at 12:15 p.m. (PT). It is the second time the Lions will face the Wolverines this season. LMU won 8-6 in the first weekend of the season. At the time Michigan was ranked eighth while LMU was 12th.

Box Score
#8 Cal Lutheran ---- 2 - 2 - 0 - 2 ---- 6
#5 LMU ---- 5 - 1 - 3 - 3 ---- 12
Scoring: CL - Cypria 3, Bridges 2, Butte. LMU - Mary Ann Campos 4, Anne Scott 2, Nicole Hughes 2, Casey Flacks 2, Kimberly Benedetti, Katlin Sherrin.
Saves: CL - Hahn 4. LMU - Eliana Arellano 5.