49ers fall to Concordia, bounce back in Inland Empire Tournament

The Long Beach State men’s water polo team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday against Concordia but rebounded to win its next three in the Inland Empire tournament.

“It was a bit of a shocker, a strange game, and we came out very slow defensively,” junior Devin Mefford said.

After being tied 2-2 at the end of the first quarter, the sixth-ranked 49ers answered with a trio of goals to take a 5-4 lead going into halftime.

Concordia gained momentum in the third quarter of play and was able to take advantage of a somewhat lackadaisical 49er defense.

With plenty of confidence on its side, Concordia was able to pull ahead of the 49ers at the midway point of the fourth quarter. In the end, Concordia pulled off the upset with a 10-9 victory over the ‘Niners.

“We took them lightly, and it came down to us not taking care of our defensive priorities,” Mefford said.

While the loss acts as a blemish on the 49ers overall record, the match against Concordia exposed weaknesses and areas that the ‘Niners need to tend to.

“It’s good that it happens earlier in the season,” Mefford said. “Just as long as it wakes us up.”

The 49ers (7-1) went on to avenge their earlier loss by smashing their remaining three opponents in the Inland Empire tournament.

In Saturday’s second match, LBSU took down Chapman for the second time this season with a 12-5 win. One day later, the ‘Niners defeated Whittier 13-3 and tournament host La Verne 19-1.

Going into the weekend, LBSU had several players battling illness. This left the door open for other players to seize the opportunity for playing time.

One such player was sophomore Zacchary Kappos, whose strong two-meter defense played a major factor in all three of the 49ers’ wins.

Even with the loss, LBSU is gaining comfort as a unit as it heads further into the season.

“Last weekend at the UCSD tournament was the first time in a while that we’d really all played together,” Mefford said. “We’re still getting used to each other and our confidence is continuing to build.”

The 49ers will be taking their act north next week as they head to Berkeley for the NorCal tournament. There they’ll get their first shot at fellow MPSF teams.

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