April 26, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's water polo team concluded a Cinderella run in the WWPA conference tournament Sunday afternoon. The No. 3 seed Broncos, who reached the championship game for the first time in program history, took on No. 1 seed and 11th ranked Loyola Marymount at the Sullivan Aquatic Center on the SCU campus. The 11-team tournament was hosted for the first time in conference history on the Mission Campus. Santa Clara valiantly battled the seven-time WWPA Champions through the four quarter contest, but could not keep their historic season alive as they fell 8-4 to the Lions.
"We played well defensively and holding LMU to only eight goals is a great feat," said head coach Keith Wilbur. "Our biggest weakness was that we did not challenge the Lions goalie enough and shoot the ball as accurately as we would have liked. I am very happy with our effort and this was a great accomplishment for the women's water polo program."
In a David versus Goliath matchup, Santa Clara kept pace with the conference leaders, Loyola Marymount, throughout the game. In the first quarter the Lions took back-to-back goals to get a 2-0 advantage. With less than two minutes in the period, freshman Marina Allen split their lead to one for SCU's first goal of the game.
Going into the second quarter down by one, LMU lead off the period with a third goal and SCU's Kendal Hildebrand countered with a second Bronco score. With the game within in one again, Santa Clara's got on the board for a third time, but not before Loyola Marymount tacked on two more goals. SCU headed into halftime down 5-3, after senior captain Amy Lamb scored with three seconds left in the quarter.
After halftime, Santa Clara was unable to close in on the Lions' lead, as Loyola Marymount scored twice before Claire Linney was able to get the ball to the back of the net. The Bronco 2-meter's goal would be the last time SCU managed to score in the game, as they went through the final period of play without a goal. LMU sealed their eighth conference championship with an eighth and final goal, to take an 8-4 victory over Santa Clara.
The Broncos conclude 2009 with a second-place WWPA finish, which is the highest Santa Clara finish in the conference tournament ever. Capping off the tournament was three players being named to the all-tournament team. Linney was the lone SCU player named to the WWPA All-Tournament First Team, and Lamb and Meg Zimmerman earned second team honors.