Behind freshman attacker Tori Morrissey’s career-high five goals, the Long Beach State women’s water polo team topped Cal State Northridge 10-4 on Sunday afternoon at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center.
Morrissey, the first-year player out of Maroubra, Australia, gave the 49ers (14-9, 2-0) an early 3-0 edge with a pair of first period goals. LBSU pulled away after that, outscoring CSUN 7-2 in the following three periods.
“In sports, if you can get some good luck and get things to go your way, you can build off of that momentum, and I think that’s what happened for us today,” LBSU head coach Gavin Arroyo said. “Northridge is a real good team and I’m not looking forward to facing them in conference.”
The 49ers are now 2-0 in the conference and CSUN’s (10-16, 0-2) head coach Marty Matthies thinks LBSU is a team everyone in the Big West needs to look out for.
“In general, this is a really good conference,” Matthies said. “Long Beach is coming off a big conference win [at UC Davis] and they showed why they’re a force to be reckoned with and we will see in [the] conference tournament how things pan out.”
Although the Matadors only scored four goals in the game, Matthies said the team’s inability to limit the 49ers offense was their main Achilles’ heel on Sunday.
“Our defense was our biggest struggle, and on top of that, we just gave them too many opportunities,” Matthies said.
One of those opportunities came with around three minutes remaining in the game. It started when CSUN’s sophomore utility Paula Abellan Garcia was ejected for complaining to one of the game officials, resulting in a six-on-five power play for LBSU. The 49ers moved the ball around and found Morrissey who drilled in her fourth score of the game, extending the LBSU lead to 8-2.
On the ensuing CSUN possession, the Matadors snapped LBSU’s 4-0 run when junior utility McKenzie Pollei cleaned up a missed shot with no one in front of the net with 2:30 left on the clock in the third period. But sophomore utility Virginia Smith answered right back and delivered a backbreaker when she fired in her second score of the game from the perimeter.
Smith said that she sensed a good feeling about Sunday’s game during the 49ers’ warmups because “everyone was on the same page.”
“After we scored our first goal, the energy just kept increasing and increasing and we started feeding off of each other,” Smith said.
Smith is the 49ers’ leading scorer with 39 goals, while Morrissey has the second most with 32. LBSU’s senior goalkeeper Alexis Butler, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, made 10 saves against CSUN and has the fourth most stops in the league with 119.
“When Alexis is on we are a real dangerous team and she was really good today,” Arroyo said.
“This is kind of new territory for us, being someone that can beat good teams. I think that pressure got a little too high for them against SDSU so it was nice for them to bounce back from that instead of dwelling on it.”
The 49ers host Pomona Pitzer next on Saturday at noon at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center.