May 10, 2009

Courtesy of Loyola Marymount Athletics

College Park, MD - LMU used a five-goal run to erase a first half deficit to take a four-goal lead against Michigan in the fifth place game of the National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship on Sunday afternoon. However, Michigan did one better, scoring the last eight goals of the game for an 11-7 win over the Lions at the Campus Recreation Center in College Park, Md.

The fourth quarter and the 6-on-5 hurt the Lions all tournament. On Sunday, they were held scoreless in the final frame and went 2-for-12 on the 6-on-5. For the tournament the Lions scored just three goals, all of them against Cal Lutheran Saturday, in the fourth quarter and went a combined 22 percent on the 6-on-5 attack (7-for-32).

"Our 6-on-5 worked well all season, it was something that we did consistently," said Head Coach John Loughran. "But in the tournament we seemed to rush things and our timing was just off. We were passing on a good shot and taking the wrong shot. Since our physical game against Hawaii on Friday, we never seemed to get into a rhythm and we played disjointed yesterday and then today it hurt us in the fourth quarter. Rarely do you see a 6-0 fourth quarter and it happened to us today."

The Lions trailed 3-2 midway through the second quarter before scoring a pair of goals in the final 1:21 to take a 4-3 at the break. Junior Anne Scott, who finished with three goals, scored both of the goals, including the final goal with 43 seconds to play on a counter from freshman Kimberly Benedetti.

LMU capitalized on the momentum by scoring the first three goals of the third quarter to take a 7-3 lead with 5:12 to play. Mary Ann Campos scored the first of the three goals and senior Nicole Hughes scored the final pair to run the lead to four goals.

However, the Lions would not get on the scoreboard the remaining 13 minutes of the game. Michigan ended the third quarter with a pair of goals to make it 7-5 heading into the final frame.

"I was really happy with our third quarter. We went 3-for-6 from the field and did a good job defensively," said Loughran. "I felt if we could score the first goal of the fourth quarter we could stop any of their momentum and hold them off. It didn't happen, we seemed to lose a little focus and could never get back on track."

Michigan scored just 56 seconds into the fourth quarter to turn the game in their favor, cutting the lead to 7-6. A minute later they tied the game at 7-7, and then 30 seconds after that they took the lead and never looked back.

Hughes and Scott each had three goals in the game. Hughes finishes her prolific career with a school record 320 goals, earning 129 this season, also a school record.

"I told the team after the game that this does not define our season. We had some great development and an outstanding conference tournament," said Loughran. "Our team, which is fairly young, had some solid improvement throughout the year. This is a great group and we gained some great experience. I think we lacked just enough experience in this type of atmosphere that it might of hurt us this weekend. This hard lesson will help us down the road."

The Lions finished with their ninth straight 20-win season, wrapping up the year at 26-9 overall and a perfect 13-0 mark to win the WWPA.