Freshman utility Garrett Zaan waited patiently in the center as the 49ers worked the ball around the perimeter on the powerplay. After three one-touch passes he rose from the water, received the ball at the top of his drive, and flung it into the net for his fourth goal of the game. No. 6 Long Beach defeated Pomona-Pitzer Saturday 12-5 advancing to the quarterfinals against UCSD next weekend at Stanford University.
The 49ers were overwhelmed early in the game as they allowed two goals early in the first. However, they then scored three unanswered, escaping the quarter with a 3-2 lead.
“It’s almost better that that happens early, it was a wake up call,” head coach Gavin Arroyo said.
Arroyo vocally stressed a press defense against the Sagehens. The tactic risks fouls, and an early penalty shot gave Pomona-Pitzer a 1-0 lead.
“Your team gets engaged when they’re pressing a little bit more,” Arroyo said. “Sometimes it’s not just a defensive tool, it’s to get back on track.”
Zaan made an incredible spinning shot from the attacking left side to give Long Beach a 4-2 lead early in the second. He added a powerplay goal minutes later to make it five unanswered goals for Long beach.
“We kinda pride ourselves on the man-up situations in being able to move the ball well, it’s sort of my philosophy and the guys did it really well tonight. That one finish with Zaan was pretty textbook,” Arroyo said.
The Sagehens took a timeout to draw up a play, but turned the ball over on their next possession.
“We just tried to stay composed, we didn’t want to be tricked or any of that,” junior attacker Austin Stewart said. “We just tried to trust the system.”
Freshman continued to lead the 49er offense. Early in the third, freshman center Theodoros Pateros hit the crossbar but Zaan tapped in the rebound for a hat trick and a 7-4 49er lead.
“I got my way tonight,” Zaan said.
A goal from redshirt senior Lorvo Miocevic on a 2-on-0 sprint in the fourth quarter iced the game 11-5.
Long Beach State water polo will travel to Stanford for a 1 p.m. Thursday quarterfinal matchup against UCSD.