Men’s water polo team to battle nation’s best in NorCal

The Long Beach State men’s water polo team will face its biggest challenge of the season in the form of a highly competitive NorCal tournament this weekend.

In a fast-paced season that ends in mid-November, the NorCal tournament has a way of gauging where teams sit among the best in NCAA Division I men’s water polo.

For LBSU the NorCal tournament provides an opportunity for the ‘Niners to reach a high level and, in the process, gain more confidence as a team.

LBSU (7-1) will meet a young Loyola Marymount team in the first round of play on Saturday.

“I’m expecting a dog fight,” head coach Gavin Arroyo said.

The last meeting between LBSU and LMU (2-3) took place during the Triton Invitational, where the ‘Niners were able to squeak out a 9-8 win.

LMU is coming off of a strong performance last weekend in which it battled against a skilled Pepperdine team to get a 10-9 win.

The NorCal tournament will see competitive teams from all over, including top ranked Southern California, Stanford, UCLA, California and UC Irvine. All of these teams will carry undefeated records into the tournament.

LBSU comes off of an eye-opening weekend at the Inland Empire tournament in which it suffered its first loss of the season against Concordia.

“With the loss we were caught off guard,” Arroyo said. “I think it taught us that if you’re not prepared and ready to go, that things can go awry pretty quickly.”

Arroyo said that his team is primed and ready for a big weekend, and while winning games is the priority, he’d like to see his team progress throughout the tournament. For the 49ers, it’ll come down to preparation before each match and being able to solidify themselves as a contender against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation powerhouses.

The ‘Niners will practice Friday morning before jumping on a bus and heading north to Berkeley.

LBSU’s game against LMU will be played at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday at Berkeley, and depending upon the outcome they’ll play a second afternoon game against either Air Force or Cal.