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Long Beach State Water Polo

PREVIEW: No. 6 Long Beach State Men’s Water Polo Hosts No. 4 Pacific Tonight

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.

The562’s coverage of boys’ water polo is sponsored by Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.


One of this week’s top NCAA men’s water polo games will be at Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center tonight as No. 6 Long Beach State hosts No. 4 Pacific in a key Golden Coast Conference clash. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“It’s really big for us and we’re all really excited,” LBSU senior Matt Morris said. “Pacific is our biggest rival in this conference. This is an awesome opportunity for us having it in Long Beach under the lights. It’s always an epic atmosphere.”

LBSU beat Pacific in the GCC championship game last year to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and these two programs have split their last 10 meetings. However, the Beach has beaten the Tigers in their only GCC Tournament meetings.

“(Pacific) has also been gearing up for this year and is loaded,” LBSU coach Gavin Arroyo said. “It should be a high level game. Hopefully that home crowd gives us some edge.”

The Beach (12-5, 1-0) has been leaning heavily on a decorated and experienced group of upperclassmen that features multi-year starters Garrett Zaan, Andrej Bosanac, Rafael Real Vergara and Morris. The junior Vergara leads LBSU with 30 goals this season. Morris has 27 goals and Zaan has scored 24 goals. 

“The thing that makes us special is that we’re a close unit,” Morris said. “We all trust each other. It sounds kind of corny but we’re a family here. We respect each other and know each other’s talents and how we play so we can play on each other’s strengths.”


LBSU started the season a bit slowly but has come on strong lately against some of the best teams in the country. Morris and Arroyo said their improvement throughout the season is part of the design.

“We want the players to make the decisions within a framework, as opposed to telling them robotically what to do,” Arroyo said. “With that approach you’re going to be a little out of synch early in the season because those A and B decisions aren’t snap decisions. The hope is that throughout the season they become more in sync. Hopefully by the end of the season the athletes are empowered and feeling that chemistry.”

Arroyo added that Morris is a great example of that free-range development.

“He’s come a long way and turned into a poised silent leader,” Arroyo said. “He’s a pretty quiet and nice kid but he’s slowly turned into a silent assassin offensive player. He’s had big goals and big moments for us. He’s broken out and taken over games. That level of confidence, you can’t put a price tag on that.”

Pacific (15-3) was picked to win the Golden Coast Conference ahead of the defending champion Beach. LBSU has won seven straight GCC matches, and Pacific has won four of its last five games.

“We talk a lot about making other teams yield and making them defeat themselves from us pushing at them so hard,” Morris said. “We need to take that into (this game) and just keep going.”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.