COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, May 10. STARING down a 7-3 deficit early in the third period, the No. 11-ranked University of Michigan water polo team rattled off eight unanswered goals to cruise past No. 9-ranked Loyola Marymount in the fifth-place game of the NCAA Championship on Sunday (May 10) at Maryland's Eppley Recreation Center Natatorium. The Wolverines, seeded sixth, finished in the top five at the national tournament for the first time since the field expanded to eight teams in 2005.
Senior Sharayah Hernandez (Pico Rivera, Calif./El Rancho) racked up four points, including a playmaker (three assists), as she added to her program-best 14 career points at the NCAA Championship. Senior Julie Hyrne (Sunnyvale, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) picked up a hat trick, while sophomore Cara Reitz (Miami, Fla./Gulliver) collected two goals and two drawn exclusions. Senior/Junior Brittany May (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara) made five saves and kept her net empty during U-M's 8-0 run in which LMU fired off seven shots.
Just 2:47 after halftime, Michigan was trailing 7-3 as the Lions scored their fifth consecutive goal, three of which came after the break. The Wolverines set off down the pool following the LMU goal and quickly drew a power play. Senior Mary Chatigny (Palm Springs, Calif./Palm Springs) wasted no time, rifling a pass to Reitz on the left post, where she sniped a shot between the goalkeeper and the post into the back of the net. Reitz continued to spark the Wolverines, drawing back-to-back ejections and sending a shot on the ensuing 6-on-4 that was barely steered to safety by an LMU field block. With just over two minutes left in the third period, sophomore Ryley Plunkett (Modesto, Calif./Johansen) thought she had pulled U-M to within two, but her shot that slammed off the crossbar was ruled not to have crossed the line. Hernandez did eventually pull the Maize and Blue to within a 7-5 margin, scoring on a power play 50 seconds later.
The onslaught from the Wolverines continued just 55 seconds into the final stanza when Hyrne took a pass from sophomore Lauren Orth (Poway, Calif./Poway) on the perimeter and decided to unload a blast that found its way to the back of the net. Michigan's lengthy climb back to a 7-7 tie came 59 seconds later when Reitz followed the rebound on her own five-meter penalty and shelved a shot. The torrid pace did not relent and U-M the game-winning goal on the board off the hand of junior Leah Robertson (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor), who rolled off an LMU defender and skipped a low shot toward the far bar. May was not left alone during the string of Wolverine goals and at 4:50 had to make an acrobatic save on a cross-cage attempt. Following the May save, senior Carrie Frost (Saline, Mich./Saline) went the other way and used the ironwork to deflect a high blast in, putting U-M ahead, 9-7. Frost hooked up with her classmate Hyrne on a power-play opportunity with 2:19 remaining to pad the Wolverine lead and sophomore Alison Mantel (Miami, Fla./Gulliver) capped the meteoric run when she score with 1:12 left to put U-M up, 11-7. Hernandez spotted Mantel floating all alone in front as all of the LMU defenders had taken off to counter attack. Mantel took the pass, pump-faked and deposited her team-high 56th goal of the campaign into the cage.
Michigan's seniors seemed to have the Wolverines off to a good start as U-M held the first two leads of the game. Hyrne scored on a long-range shot to open the scoring two minutes after the opening spring. Despite three field blocks on the penalty kill by that point from Hernandez, LMU landed the equalizer on the power play half-a-minute later. Hernandez set up U-M's next goal, finding senior Kelsey Haley (Portola Valley, Calif./Menlo) on the far post where she extended across her body to corral the pass but got enough of a grip to push the ball into the back of the cage. LMU struck with the extra attacker with 31 seconds remaining in the first period to level the score at 2-2.
The lead returned to the Maize and Blue 3:40 into the second period on an Orth score when she sent a knuckling shot to the far side of the cage for the Wolverines' only score of the period. Both teams generated opportunities in the middle of the frame, but inside the final two minutes, LMU began its five-goal run with two scores that eventually were superseded by the Michigan run that resulted in U-M's first two-win NCAA Championship appearance in program history. The Wolverines finish with a program-record 35 wins (35-9).
By Period 1 2 3 4 F
Michigan 2 1 2 6 11
Loyola Marymount 2 2 3 0 7
U-M Goals: Julie Hyrne 3, Cara Reitz 2, Lauren Orth, Alison Mantel, Carrie Frost, Leah Robertson, Sharayah Hernandez, Kelsey Haley.
LMU Goals: Anne Scott 3, Nicole Hughes 3, Mary Ann Campos.
Saves: U-M 5 (Brittany May), LMU 4 (Eliana Arellano)
Ejections: U-M 12, LMU 9
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