The student section roared as Long Beach State freshman attacker Rafael Real Vergara launched a close-range spin-shot for the go-ahead goal late in the fourth quarter against rival UCSD, ultimately winning the match 12-10 at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center Wednesday.
No. 6 Long Beach carried its offensive momentum against No. 9 UCSD, claiming its 13th win of the season in a back-and-forth affair against UC San Diego.
“San Diego is a great team, they’ve been doing some good stuff,” head coach Gavin Arroyo said. “Tonight was not going to be easy, they hit some really good shots. Their goalie is on the national team as well and was a challenge.”
The Beach (13-9, 2-1 Golden Coast) held their ground offensively, ending the Tritons (18-6, 0-1 WPPA) 11-game win streak.
The bleachers were full of shivering students and supporters for both teams, huddling together to cheer on their squad throughout the gusty evening.
UCSD’s junior utility Connor Lindenstadt scored two goals within three minutes to put the Tritons up 2-1 early on.
Vergara quickly evened it up, scoring a goal in the third minute of the first quarter to tie the game.
“The win is very nice, we did our jobs,” Vergara said. “We handled the refs but we managed to win anyway so shows even when it’s difficult.”
In the last minute of the first quarter, sophomore utility Garret Zaan put the Beach up 3-2, capitalizing on the fast-paced play.
The second quarter saw the Beach score early with goals by Zaan and junior defender Curtis Casper, putting the Beach up 5-2.
The lead wouldn’t last long as UCSD responded quickly, scoring in the sixth minute of the second quarter to make it 5-3. With 3:50 to play in the quarter, the Tritons scored again to make it 5-4.
“It was a good night for us,” Casper said. “There’s not much we can do about dirt calls from the refs but we overcame it.”
By the end of the third quarter, the game was tied 9-9 with the crowd on its toes.
Long Beach State has a 53-19 record in the series overall against UCSD.
“We are ready for finals,” Vergara said. “I feel happy that I can score for the team on offense.”
Long Beach men’s water polo will host the University of the Pacific Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center.