When the Long Beach State men’s water polo team headed off to the Inland Empire Classic last weekend, the 49ers knew they had to take their opponents seriously, even against two non-Division I teams. The results came out as expected, with an 18-2 win against Redlands and a 13-8 win over Pomona-Pitzer.
This weekend, the 49ers (5-1) head to a more serious and competitive tournament in the Aggie Roundup, hosted by UC Davis. The tournament features 11 teams, with several top tier teams in attendance. No. 6 LBSU will matchup with No. 9 UC Davis and No. 5 Pacific on Saturday followed by Whittier and No. 2 USC on Sunday.
“It’s a totally different situation [this week],” head coach Gavin Arroyo said. “Playing three top level teams in two days and even Whittier who’s one of the stronger teams in the [Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference]. It’s going to require some stamina.”
On Saturday, LBSU will play conference rival Pacific, in what will be a preview of its home-opener Sept. 30 at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center. Pacific and the 49ers are predicted to finish in first and second place in the Golden Coast Conference.
“We know we can beat Pacific, which is an important game, and we know we can matchup with USC if we go in with the right mentality,” junior goalie Thomas Freeman said. “Against UC Davis and Whittier we should win as long as we stick to our gameplan. Everyone has been good so far and the guys who were away this summer in Taipei are getting back into it.”
LBSU looks to gain more momentum as it prepares for the start of Golden Coast Conference play at the end of the month. After the Aggie Roundup, LBSU will compete in one more tournament and then begin conference play, with games against Pacific and Pepperdine.
“It’s great to be back in the pool with the guys. I’m looking forward to hopefully winning conference this year and making a run in the NCAA’s,” Freeman said.