SANTA BARBARA — Unexpected results may ultimately define the season, but the year started according to plan for the Long Beach State women’s water polo team.
The 10th-ranked 49ers (3-1) took three of their four matches at the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
LBSU managed a split against a pair of ranked opponents on the tournament’s first day. The Beach dropped its opening game to No. 4 California, 13-6, before knocking off No. 20 Pacific, 9-4.
Coriann Snyder scored five goals to lead the 49ers in the two games.
Kelly Ringel started both games on Saturday. She made eight saves in the win over Pacific.
Head coach Gavin Arroyo indicated that the chance to play a tough Golden Bears squad early on would serve his team well in the future. The 49ers will get another chance to pull off the upset against Cal on Feb. 15 when they travel to Berkeley for a nonconference showdown.
On day two of the tournament, the 49ers earned victories against Cal State Bakersfield and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Roadrunners challenged the 49ers in a low-scoring affair. The Beach led 3-1 at the half and 4-1 at the end of the third quarter. A four-goal outburst in the final frame helped the 49ers roll to an 8-4 win in their first match Sunday.
Justine Morgan sparked the 49ers with a hat-trick against CSUB.
“She had a great weekend,” said Arroyo of Morgan’s offensive emergence. “She was playing more aggressive.”
The 49ers received contributions from both old leaders and players looking to step into larger roles. Ringel fortified the net by stopping 25 shots in her three games this weekend.
Snyder’s offense was a welcomed asset for LBSU, but Arroyo emphasized the importance of her defense to the success of the team.
“She had a few goals here and there, but she was really strong defensively,” Arroyo said. “She dominated the center position.”
Senior Hillary Veselik is starting for the first time in her career for The Beach. She scored in both games on Saturday.
The 49ers will host No. 9 San Diego State Sunday in LBSU’s home opener. Game time is set for noon.