Long Beach State Swamps Pomona-Pitzer in 2018 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Opener; Will Face UC San Diego

Gavin Arroyo leads his 49ers to a seventh straight win. Photo Courtesy: John Fajardo

The Sagehens of Pomono-Pitzer got off to a fast start in Saturday’s 2018 NCAA Men’s Water Polo Tournament opening round match, connecting on goals from Dylan Elliot on a 5-meter penalty shot and Adam Ward at even strength to jump out to a 2-0 lead on host Long Beach State at the Ken Lingren Aquatics Center.


Then, the 49ers—winners last Sunday of the Golden Coast Conference’s automatic bid thanks to a 10-6 win over top-seed Pacific—woke up. LBS scoring six unanswered goals over the next period and a half, part of an offensive onslaught that silenced the Sagehens, champions of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and advanced the 49ers (14-11) to a quarterfinal match next Thursday against UC San Diego (19-5) at Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center.


Garrett Zaan. Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo / Peter Laurence

Freshman Garrett Zaan led the way for Head Coach Gavin Arroyo’s Long Beach squad, tallying four goals, while Austin Stewart gathered two goals and four assists and Keegan Wicken chipped in a goal and four assists.

[Five Questions for Gavin Arroyo, Head Coach for Long Beach State Water Polo]

For Pomona-Pitzer, coached by Alex Rodriguez, Ward had two goals, Elliot had a goal and three assists and Sam Sasaki helped out with a goal. Sagehen goalie James Kelbert was peppered with 25 LBS shots, making 10 saves, while 49er netminder Marwan Darwish turned aside 12 of Pomona-Pitzer shots on goal.

[On On the Record with Pomona-Pitzer Water Polo’s Alex Rodriguez]

It was a strong performance for the home team, which was making its first NCAA appearance since 1991. The visitors have been to a SCIAC record three straight national championships, the only NCAA appearances for the Sagehen men in their 40 years of existence.

With Long Beach continuing its winning ways—the 49er win streak is now at seven—the biggest loser on Saturday may have been GCC rival UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos—currently the nation’s #5 team—voluntarily elected to sit out the postseason due to an on-going review by its university administration and the NCAA.

[UCSB Statement on Skipping 2018 GCC Men’s Water Polo Tournament]

With winnable games against Pomona-Pitzer and UC San Diego, the Gauchos must be frustrated to be missing out on what would have been a golden opportunity to go deep in what would have been the program’s first NCAA tournament in 28 years.


  1. avatar

    Regards for helping out, excellent information.

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      My pleasure; not sure what information you needed BUT I do what I can.

      Your correspondent