The No. 12 UC Irvine Women’s Water Polo team (13-15, 4-8) was defeated by the No. 6 Loyola Marymount University Lions, 5-11, in their last regular season and a nonconference home game on April 20 at the Anteater Aquatics Complex.
In the first quarter, the sole goal for the Anteaters came from freshman driver Jessica Lewis in the last 51 seconds of the quarter while LMU put up three, two by Christine Robinson and one from Jessica Conner, to leave the score in the Lions favor, 3-1.
The two-goal gap between the Anteaters and the Lions continued into the second.
LMU had two chances early in the second to put one away but the ball hit the side of the goal in the Lions’ first attempt but they were able to keep the ball in their possession before UCI finally got it back in their hands.
The ball was in Lewis’ possession, who then passed it to senior driver Karly Tivenan, who unsuccessfully struggled to maintain control of the ball as LMU double-teamed Tivenan.
Though UCI lost the ball, they had enough time to initiate a power play that allowed Lewis to score a goal with a throw that went straight into the right corner of the goal.
This was Lewis’ second goal for the Anteaters.
The teams battled it out as they went to their respective sides and continuously attempted to put a goal past each other’s goalkeeper.
LMU’s players were able to keep the ball constantly moving and showed stronger defense than the Anteaters who played catch up throughout the match.
UCI brought the score even closer as senior driver Alicia Weider scored another goal with 1:53 left in the second quarter to make the score 3-4.
LMU soon answered back with one of their own as Katie Hicks drove one into the goal from a power play at 1:11 in the second to push the score to 5-3.
In the meantime, senior two-meter Erica Nicholson picked up her second exclusion of the game with less than a minute to go in the second quarter.
The ball was in LMU’s hands in the last play of the quarter, but they failed to produce a goal as they were beat by the buzzer to end the first half of the game.
After the half, the third quarter began with LMU leading yet again after the end of two quarters.
UCI would not be able to gain a closer lead than they did in the second.
UCI Head Coach Dan Klatt said, ‘We didn’t play technically or intelligently. We couldn’t put away shots.’
With a combination of UCI losing the ball and LMU running out of time, UCI’s luck did not get any better as Anteater sophomore driver Robyn Kaake threw the ball in hope of scoring a goal, but instead the ball fell just short of reaching the goal.
After LMU gained possession of the ball, the Lions’ Hicks got the ball and sank a powerful shot into the right side of the goal.
UCI’s senior Aleah Amr then threw one straight down the middle to put a goal in for the Anteaters, but the win was short-lived as LMU’s Robinson broke away to the other side of the pool where she put an easy shot in the goal to push the score to 4-7.
Even though UCI was headed to the goal several times, they made ineffective shots that did not fall into the goal.
Klatt said that size in the pool mattered, as UCI’s ladies were smaller, around 5-foot-five compared to LMU’s 5-foot-10 ladies.
LMU was able to put another one in the goal before the third quarter ended.
The fourth quarter ended in the same manner as the first, as the Lions outscored the Anteaters 3-1.
UCI’s sole goal for the quarter came from freshman driver Alli Russell.
The Lions scored three more goals before the game ended to leave the final score 11-5.
Amr saw a lack of offense and counterattack in UCI’s level of play that night.
‘When we don’t score the first goal, they take the momentum of the game and we have to catch up.’ Amr said, which is what happened.
Sophomore goal keeper Kelly Woodbury agreed with Amr as she said, ‘It took a little time for us to click with what we needed to do.’
UCI’s first half goal keeper, freshman goalkeeper Lauren Machanis, had one save and sophomore goalkeeper Woodbury made three in the second half.
LMU’s goalkeeper Rachel Riddell had two saves for the Lions.
This win tied LMU’s record for most wins in one season, 25, which they set last year in 2004.
This ends UCI’s regular season.
‘I would like to have given them a better game. We’re strong, not concerned about the future but optimistic. [We] just want to play better,’ Klatt said.
It was also the seniors, such as Amr’s last home game who said, ‘Considering it was our last home game there was a lot of emotion.’
‘This is a great year. The best team I’ve ever played with and the first time I loved everyone on the team,’ Amr said. ‘I’m glad I finished [my season] like this. I wouldn’t want to finish with any other team.’