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Too much for JSerra to overcome in Vellekamp final
The fatigued Lions lose Glore to a cut in the opening period and go on to lose to Loyola of L.A., 11-7.
IRVINE — JSerra's boys water polo team faced multiple challenges in the finals of the Hank Vellekamp No. 2 Tournament on Saturday night at Northwood High.
There was undefeated Loyola of Los Angeles, the No. 1 ranked team in Division I.
There was fatigue.
And there was the absence of 2-meter defender Garret Glore.
The Lions hung tough, but Loyola continued its stellar season by using a balanced effort to secure an 11-7 victory and a third tournament crown. Matt Schwartz led seven players in scoring with three goals.
"It was tough, but we tried to hang in there," JSerra senior Chris Meinhold said. "They're a good team."
The Division II Lions (14-9), ranked fifth in Orange County, played two matches Saturday before taking on Loyola.
The Cubs, meanwhile, didn't have an earlier match Saturday in the pool-play style tournament.
Loyola, a fast and hard-pressing team, put away JSerra by scoring the first three goals of the fourth period.
JSerra's chances for victory also suffered a blow in the opening period as Glore was cut below his eyebrow while defending 2 meters. He missed the final three periods with a cut that required stitches, JSerra coach Petar Asic said.
"Everything changes (without Glore)," Asic said. "He's my No. 1 defender."
Loyola started fast, opening a 5-1 lead late in the first half. But the Lions made a surge in the third to draw to 6-4 midway through the period.
JSerra then had a power-play chance to cut the lead but Luke Hewko had one shot blast off the cage and another one tipped by goalie Clayton Evans that bounced out.
Late in the third, the Lions' cut Loyola's lead to 8-6, thanks to a clever connection between Hewko and Macrae Carden just before the buzzer.
Carden drew a foul outside 5 meters but instead of picking up the ball in transition, he drove toward the goal and scored on a quick pass by Hewko, who picked up the free pass.
Loyola landed the knockout punch in the fourth but Cubs coach Erik Healy believed it should have arrived earlier. "But JSerra is a very good team," he said.
Asic thought Glore would be ready for the Lions' Trinity League match at Servite on Wednesday.