SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara men's water polo was led by its seniors in their final regular-season home appearance, but it wasn't enough to overcome Loyola Marymount, which held on for a 14-13 victory Saturday in a Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) game.
Will Grant scored a career-high five goals and fellow senior Graham McClone added four for the Broncos (11-14, 2-4), but Alex Athimaritis struck for four goals and Cory McGee scored twice, including the game-winner with 2:00 left in the game, for the Lions (11-14, 4-2).
Trailing 12-10 in the fourth quarter, Santa Clara needed just more than one minute to tie the game. Right after the end of an LMU ejection, Grant took a feed from freshman Mac Carey and rifled it past goalie Dominick Beaudine with 4:59 remaining in the game. On the next possession, Carey was set up by Sam Toriggino for the tying goal with 3:50 on the clock.
However, 17th-ranked LMU responded quickly. Jon Beck scored the last of his three goals with 2:50 remaining as a Santa Clara exclusion was expiring. After the 20th-ranked Broncos turned the ball over, McGee made it 14-12 less than a minute later off an assist from Athimaritis.
But Grant again came through, scoring off the rebound of a Ryan Werner shot to make it a one-goal deficit. The Broncos had one last possession but were unable to get a shot off.
Both teams were efficient shooting the ball, connecting at nearly a 50-percent clip. The Lions went 5-fot-10 with the man advantage and the Broncos were 4 of 9, but missed their lone 5-meter attempt.
Grant's first score gave the Broncos a 4-3 edge, their only advantage of the game, midway through the second quarter, but the Lions scored the next four to take a three-goal lead into halftime.
"It was defense again," Santa Clara head coach Keith Wilbur said of the difference in the game. "This was a high scoring game. We're playing good teams. The offense is great. We were producing on offense, but just a couple breakdowns here and there on defense."
Santa Clara also lost by a goal just two days ago, falling to UC San Diego, 11-10.
"LMU and San Diego are two and three in our conference," Wilbur said. "We're close which is good. We've got two weeks to shore up some things, especially on the defensive end. If we can get a couple more key stops and keep playing the same way offensively, that's what it's going to take to get over the hump."
Garrat Johnson and Matt Godar joined Grant and McClone by in a senior ceremony before the game. Godar, Grant and Johnson are all fifth-year seniors.
The Broncos are off until they play in the WWPA Championship, which is scheduled for Nov. 18-20, at Sullivan Aquatic Center.
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