SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 14th-ranked and second-seeded University of California San Diego men’s water polo team survived a late scare and defeated No. 16 Loyola Marymount, the third seed, by a final score of 8-7 in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championship semifinals, Saturday at Sullivan Aquatics Center. The Tritons will play No. 8 UC Davis for the conference title, with the winner earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. UCSD will go for its fourth straight, 19th overall conference title. It is the sixth consecutive year that the Tritons are part of the WWPA Championship title game.
UCSD improves to 15-7 overall with the win. The Lions are now 12-16 on the year.
Freshman Skyler Munatones put away a game-high three goals. Junior Arman Momdzhyan pitched in two and seniors Nassim Hmeidan, Andy Moore and Nick Alexander had one each. Goalie Jack Turner amassed 12 saves.
Alex Arthimaritis was the top goal scorer for LMU with two. Dominick Beaudine compiled nine stops.
UCSD led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter thanks to two scores from Momdzhyan. The first came on a backhanded shot and the second on a cross-cage skip shot with one tick remaining in the period.
Munatones gave the Tritons a 4-1 lead, scoring on back-to-back possessions to start the second, both coming from outside five meters. Hmeidan scored on a power play after the Lions converted a five-meter penalty shot as UCSD led by three. LMU scored once more as the Tritons took a 5-3 advantage into halftime.
UCSD got two counter-attack scores from Alexander and Moore to start the second half and took their largest lead of the game, 7-3. From there, the Lions’ Dayne Jagga and Munatones traded goals as the Tritons went up, 8-5, with one period remaining.
LMU did not allow UCSD to score in the final period. The Lions put away three goals, all in the last 2:30 of the game. Arthimaritis and Jon Beck scored on consecutive posessions with 2:28 and 2:05, respectively, remaining in the game. Cory McGee scored for the Lions with 1:20 left to make it a one-goal game. The Tritons were able to force a ball under violation and a bad pass on LMU’s last two possessions to seal the win.
UCSD will play No. 8 UC Davis on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. The winner will not only be crowned as the WWPA champion, but also receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
UC San Diego 8, Loyola Marymount 7
UCSD 2 3 3 0 - 8
LMU 1 2 1 3 - 7
LMU: Alex Arthimaritis 2, Daniel Arellano 1, Jon Beck 1, Eric Reitmeir 1, Dayne Jagga 1, Cory McGee 1
UCSD: Jack Turner 12
LMU: Dominick Beaudine 9