No. 24 San Diego State water polo suffers loss in regular season finale to No. 15 Loyola Marymount, 15-8

Freshman Claudia Valdes had three scores but the Aztecs were outscored 6 to 1 in the third quarter and lost 15-8


Fernando Martinez

Senior Danni Croteau evades a defender on March 4, 2023.

by Roman Aguilar, Staff Writer

The No. 24 San Diego State water polo team was defeated by No. 15 Loyola Marymount University, 15-8, on April 21 at the Aztec Aquaplex. LMU took the first meeting of the season 17-8 at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational on Feb. 25 

The loss broke a two-game win streak for the Aztecs as they finished with a regular season record of 11-16. The Aztecs also finished 4-3 in the Golden Coast Conference (GCC). San Diego State entered the week in third place in the Golden Coast Conference, one game behind LMU in the standings. If SDSU won, and both teams tied, the Scarlet and Black would have earned the No. 2 seed in next week’s GCC Championship Tournament. Instead, SDSU will enter next weekend’s tournament as the No. 4 seed.

Head coach Dana Oschner called a team meeting after the loss and afterward spoke on what to take away from the grueling end to the regular season 

“The nice thing is, no matter what, I think you go in with the expectation that we’re going to get better from this game and, move on from it and go on to the next expecting to learn from our mistakes and achieve the goals we want to no matter what the outcome of today,” Oschner said. 

The Aztecs defense couldn’t contain LMU, trailing 3-0 just after the first three minutes of the game. San Diego State got on the board at the 3:02 mark on a goal from freshman Shannon Murphy. This was soon followed by a score from freshman attacker Ella Wiegand as the clock expired in the first quarter with the Aztecs only trailing 3-2.  

SDSU opened the second quarter with a goal from sophomore attacker Rose Kanemy to tie the game up 3-3 with 6:38 to play before halftime. The Lions proceeded to score four unanswered goals over a span of two and a half minutes to take the lead 7-3. Before the halftime horn blew, first-year driver Hannah Bell scored with 2:51 to play in the half, and freshman attacker Claudia Valdes scored her first goal of the game with a second left to leave SDSU down 7-5 at the half. 

Coming out of the half in the third quarter, the Lions scored three times with the Scarlet and Black unable to answer back. Down 10-5, Valdes picked up her second score of the game, at 5:31, but LMU quickly added two more of their own to add to their lead to 13-6 after the third quarter. 

As the fourth quarter started, Valdes scored her third goal of the day, and an eighth hat trick of the season. As soon as SDSU scored, LMU found a way to answer back and score each time. Junior attacker Kendall Houck scored the final goal of the game for San Diego State, but too little too late as LMU got the final score of the game to close the 15-8 loss. 

Prior to the LMU contest, four seniors, Amanda Legaspi, Katie Ratcliff, Jerssica Leckich, and Samantha Loughlin were honored in a ceremony. Legaspi entered the game tied with Valdes for the team lead in goals with 42 each. Legaspi also led the Aztecs in ejections drawn (48) and shots percentage among players who have attempted at least two shots per game played (.467) and was second in shots (90), points (64), and third in assists (22). 

“I’ve coached a lot of teams and the seniors are some pretty spectacular women,” Oschner said. “They’ve done an amazing job this year, of really leading this team both in the water and out. Taking the younger players under their wings, really makes them feel comfortable and accepted here at San Diego State. And it’s shown through how the freshmen play for them.” 

Looking toward their next game, SDSU faced rival No.14 UC San Diego in the 20th edition of the Harper Cup but fell to UC San Diego 10-9. The Scarlet and Black were held scoreless in the second quarter and surrendered five goals to UC San Diego. They ultimately lost on a goal with three seconds remaining to lose. The loss leaves San Diego State with a 13-8 advantage in Harper Cup games, marking a seventh straight victory for the Triton in the annual game. 

San Diego State hosts the Golden Coast Championship tournament as the 4-seed, which runs from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30 at Aztec Aquaplex and will play 5-seeded Concordia University Irvine at 2 p.m. in the third of four quarterfinal games on Friday.