No. 10 Long Beach State men’s water polo team faces its most important game of the season so far, as the team begins Golden Coast Conference play 7 p.m. Friday.
Long Beach will look to begin conference play on a high note, taking on No. 11 Pepperdine Friday night at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center. The Waves (6-6) are also riding a losing streak, dropping their last four games in a row to UCLA, UCSB, Stanford and Cal.
The team looks to compete for a conference title after coming in third place last year.
LBSU (6-4) is coming off its third loss in a row after suffering a 9-7 loss to No. 2 UCLA two weeks ago.
“We’re a little bit behind in the sense that our newer, younger guys kind of got a late start,” head coach Gavin Arroyo said. “We’ve been fast tracking a lot of young talent into our chemistry with the older guys. Our rate of improvement should be greater here soon.”
The team struggled to get its offense going against UCLA, taking a lot of deep outside shots and having a hard time getting the ball in the middle.
Long Beach’s leading goal scorers Austin Stewart (19) and Chandler Kaltenbach (16) have combined for only three goals in the last two games.
While the 49ers leading scorers have been fairly quiet as of late, the team’s defense has kept them close, but hasn’t done enough to combat the team’s losing streak.
Pepperdine is a force in the middle, led by senior center Chris Dilworth who’s scored 31 goals this season.
“I don’t think anyone is thinking about coming off a few losses or winning streaks,” Arroyo said. “We’re just focusing on Pepperdine and looking forward to next week’s tournament.”
After Friday’s matchup against Pepperdine, Long Beach will hit the road and take on No. 3 Stanford Thursday Oct. 11 followed by the NorCal Tournament hosted by Stanford that same weekend.