WWPA Day 1 Recap

Nov. 22, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. - Freshman Jon Beck scored with 1:07 remaining in the second sudden-victory period to lift fourth-seeded Loyola Marymount to an 11-10 win over fifth-seeded Air Force in opener, then freshman Graham McClone scored a hat trick to help No. 3 seed Santa Clara hold on against No. 6 Cal Baptist in a 10-9 finale during Friday's quarterfinal play of the Western Water Polo Association men's championship tournament at UC Davis' Schaal Aquatics Center.

The Lions will advance to Saturday's 12:15 semifinal against top-seeded UC Davis, while the Broncos will face No. 2 seed UC San Diego at 2 p.m.

GAME 1: LMU 11, AIR FORCE 10 (3ot)
Beck's goal closed out a contest that featured five ties and 11 minutes of scoreless extra time, as the defending-champion Falcons nearly upset the preseason-favorite Lions. Senior center Andrew Hamilton and senior driver Max Reilly each scored three goals for the Academy, with goalie Max Benson making 14 stops. For the Lions, sophomore Militun Mitrovic, freshman Matt Cuozzo and sophomore Liam Jennis each scored twice. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kirk Wilenius tallied seven saves for LMU, including one against a five-meter penalty shot with no time remaining in regulation.

The Lions, ranked 15th in Wednesday's national coaches' poll, scored four unanswered goals to craft a 5-2 lead early in the second quarter. After Mitrovic completed a power play to equalize at 2-2 with 2:24 in the first frame, Beck's steal at midtank led to a Cuozzo goal in the final seconds, giving LMU a one-goal edge at quarter's end. Utility Liam Jennis scored on a 6-on-5 chance from two meters out then Cuozzo fired from the five spot in the early going of the second to push the Lion advantage to three.

Air Force quickly fought back to a 5-4 deficit, scoring first on an extra-man goal by Petar Jackovich then again on a Josh Stedman penalty shot with 4:28 left in the second. That score held up into the break, with Benson making three big saves down the stretch of the half.



LMU jumped ahead by a two-goal margin on three separation occasions in the second half: on Tyler Testman's shot from the one spot at 5:15 in the third, Seth Coldren's counterattack with 1:20 left in the third, and Jennis' power-play goal with 3:35 in the fourth. However, Air Force sophomore Zack Kamai completed a 6-on-5 chance at the 2:16 mark and Hamilton did likewise with less than a minute to go, tying the contest at 10-10. The Falcons then caught a major break with two seconds left in regulation: Cory McGee was called for an exclusion, then hit with a five-meter foul immediately after. That put sophomore driver Andy Santala on the line for a potential game-winning penalty shot. His attempt short-hopped the goalie Wilenius, who promptly deflected the ball up and over the cage. The two teams went to overtime.

Each goalkeeper had key saves in the overtime frames. Benson stopped a Mitrovic 6-on-5 attempt in the first segment while Wilenius came up with a stop against Kamai on a counterattack late in the second. Air Force senior Brad Duncan also had a big field block against Vuk Cvetkovic to help send the contest to sudden victory. LMU missed on three attempts in that first three minutes of golden-goal play while Wilenius came up with yet another heroic save to force a second sudden-victory period. Again, both teams locked down on defense before Beck's heroics in the 43rd minute of play. His shot eluded Benson's hands on the left side of the cage, settling in against the side net for the winner.

McClone, Kyle Nadel and Patrick Weiss each converted Santa Clara 6-on-5 chances in the fourth quarter to help the 14th-ranked Broncos hold off Cal Baptist in Friday's nightcap. Sophomore 2-meter David Ring scored a hat trick for the Lancers, all in the second half. Like the LMU-AFA game, the afternoon contest featured a battle of goalkeepers: Joseph Moorman tallied 12 saves for Baptist while Matt Pritchett had 13 stops for Santa Clara.

The late-autumn sun glare seemed to play a part in the first half, with Matt Puig and Jake Jizmejian boosting CBU to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. When the teams switched sides in the second, Santa Clara scored three unanswered to take a 3-2 halftime lead. Junior utility David Guibord scored on a backhanded sweep shot at the 6:10 mark, then stole an entry pass to two meters to set up a McClone counterattack two minutes later.

The offenses came alive in a nine-goal third quarter. Ring hit back-to-back early in the frame to put CBU back to a 5-4 lead, converting assists from Wetherbee and Trevor Rowland in the process. Each team traded goals with neither side taking more than a one-goal edge for the remainder of the third quarter. Tucker Carlson equalized, 7-7, on a 6-on-5 shot from the left side with just two seconds left.

Santa Clara finally regained the lead as Carlson assisted Weiss on a 6-on-5 goal a minute into the fourth, then Nadel made it a two-goal game with his power play at the 4:16 mark. CBU halved the lead to one goal twice in the fourth but could not erase the Bronco lead. Ring completed his hat trick with 89 seconds left, bringing the score to 10-9 in SCU's favor. Pritchett posted his 13th save with about 30 seconds left but his Bronco teammates turned the ball over while trying to kill the clock. Cal Baptist had one more chance to force an overtime period, until SCU junior Mark Davis stole the ball in the final seconds to protect the win.

Cal Baptist and Air Force will square off on Sunday morning for the fifth-place game. Host UC Davis and No. 2 seed UC San Diego earned byes into the Saturday semifinal round. The Aggies are ranked 11th nationally while the Tritons held at 10th in Wednesday's poll.

The winner of the WWPA championship earns the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Championship, hosted by Stanford on Dec. 7-8.

Hosted by UC Davis • Schaal Aquatics Center

#5 Air Force (5-14) 2 2 4 2 0 0 0 - 10
#4 Loyola Marymount (13-13) 3 2 4 1 0 0 1 - 11

GOALS - AFA: Max Reilly 3, Andrew Hamilton 3, Andy Santala 1, Josh Stedman 1, Petar Jackovich 1, Zach Kamai 1. LMU: Militun Mitrovic 2, Matt Cuozzo 2, Liam Jennis 2, Joe Ferretti 1, Cory McGee 1, Tyler Testman 1, Seth Coldren 1, Jon Beck 1.

GOALIE SAVES - AFA: Max Benson 14 (42:57). LMU: Kirk Wilenius 7 (42:57).

#6 Cal Baptist (15-16) 2 0 5 2 - 9
#3 Santa Clara (17-14) 0 3 4 3 - 10

GOALS - CBU: David Ring 3, Matt Puig 2, Cameron Custance 2, Jake Jizmejian 1, Cody Wetherbee 1. SCU: Graham McClone 3, Tucker Carlson 2, Patrick Weiss 2, David Guibord 1, Theo Nasser 1, Kyle Nadel 1.

GOALIE SAVES - CBU: Joseph Moorman 12 (32:00). SCU: Matt Pritchett 13 (32:00).