The Long Beach State women’s water polo team looks to build off its 10th place finish in the UC San Diego Tournament, as it will participate in the UC Irvine Invitational Friday through Sunday at UC Irvine.
“It’s the most competitive tournament of the year,” head coach Gavin Arroyo said. “All the best teams are there, so we really get a chance to play against the best.”
Long Beach opens up the UCI Tournament 12:30 p.m. Friday against No. 3 UCLA. The Bruins are led by junior Maddie Musselman, who leads the team with 27 goals and senior goalie Carlee Kapana, who has 80 saves, the most for UCLA.
Long Beach (2-6) went 2-2 in the UCSD tournament, losing in the ninth place game to tournament host UC San Diego 9-6 Feb. 10. Earlier in the day, Long Beach beat Big West foe Cal State Northridge 10-4.
Long Beach started the UCSD tournament 1-1 Feb. 9, as it fell to Loyola Marymount 10-9 before bouncing back to beat Pomona-Pitzer 17-8, earning its first win of the 2019 season.
“Obviously you want to finish as high you can [in a tournament], but I think it was a blessing in disguise to get some leveled teams to get into the battle of winning and losing,” Arroyo said.
Freshman attacker Orsi Hertzka totaled 16 goals for the UCSD Tournament and currently leads Long Beach with 23 goals.
“She’s from Hungary and she’s the captain of their 20-and under team,” Arroyo said. “For her, it’s about getting her as comfortable as possible with living in a different country. She’s definitely pretty special and she’s going to help us a lot.”
Another freshman that has stepped up her play for Long Beach is Sarah Barker, whose position is listed as defender, but plays center.
Arroyo said playing the center position is difficult to play in water polo and compared it to playing the quarterback position in football.
“She’s had a great couple weeks of practice,” Arroyo said. “She’s more than capable of doing great things for us along the way.”