Stockton, Calif. – The No. 1 Pacific men's water polo team wrapped its most impressive regular season in program history with a 9-7 win over No. 8 Long Beach State Saturday at Chris Kjeldsen Pool. Senior Balasz Erdelyi scored five goals for the Tigers, who improve to 20-3 and win the MPSF regular season title.
Finishing Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play at 7-1, Pacific earns its first-ever MPSF regular season title and will be the Number 1 seed at the MPSF Tournament next week at Kjeldsen Pool. UCLA and Stanford also finished 7-1 and each of the teams losses came against one of the others. Pacific earns the number one seed via third tie-breaker of goals scored in MPSF games amongst the group.
In the pool, the Tigers were not as impressive as their season to date, but Pacific's got the job done with an explosive first half.
Sophomore Krisztian Laczkovics opened the scoring 1:05 into the game, converting a six-on-five. After Long Beach's Devin Mefford responded with a goal at a six-minute mark, Erdelyi tallied with a backhanded shot off a rebound for a 2-1 Pacific lead. Senior Balazs Szabo gave Pacific breathing room with a six-on-five goal to the far post at the 4:03 mark.
After LBSU's Dimitrios Lappas pulled the 49ers within one in the first half, Erdelyi scored again from inside the two-meter as Pacific closed the first quarter with a 4-2 lead.
The second quarter was the Erdelyi show, as he tallied three goals, the first on a six-on-five, at the 5:53 mark, the second coming from distance at the midway point, and the third on another six-on-five at the 1:31 mark.
Long Beach got a goal back as Mefford found the back of the net with 1:03 remaining as Pacific took a 7-3 lead into halftime.
The Tigers didn't keep up their first-half intensity in the second half, as Long Beach posted pack-to-back goals to open the third quarter. Zacchary Kappos converted a six-on-five at the 6:04 mark, and Milos Vrzic snuck one into the cage at the 4:26 mark.
But Pacific went inside to senior Goran Tomasevic, who's turn-around shot gave the Tigers an 8-5 lead with 1:18 to go in the third.
After four minutes of scoreless action in the fourth, sophomore Aleksandar Petrovic finished for a 9-5 Pacific lead and the Tigers coasted home. Mefford and Vrzic tallied in the final 2:35 while the Tigers spread the pool and ran the clock down on their 20th win of the season.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Malkis made 14 saves in goal for the Tigers.
Pacific's 20 wins are the most by the program since the 1993 squad went 20-9, and made the program's only NCAA Tournament appearance to date, and ties for the most by Pacific in 40 years.
Pacific will play in the tournament's first game, on Friday, at 10 am against the Number 8 seed, which will be determined by tomorrow's Pepperdine vs UC Irvine game.
The MPSF Tournament starts at 10 am each day, next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at Kjeldsen Pool.
Stanford earns the No. 2 seed by virtue of their head-to-head win over UCLA, with the Bruins taking the No. 3 seed and drawing No. 6 seed UC Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals. USC is seeded fourth and will face No. 5 seed Cal in the quarters.
Long Beach (19-12, 1-7 MPSF) has earned a spot in the tournament, but the 49ers seed is to be determined by the Irvine/Pepperdine game.
Score By Periods
#8 LBSU 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 -- 7
#1 PAC 4 - 3 - 1 - 1 -- 9
PAC: #3 Krizstian Laczkovics (6:55, 6-on-5, 1-0).
LBSU: #2 Devin Mefford (6:00, 1-1)
PAC: #9 Balazs Erdelyi (4:54, 2-1) backhand on rebound off crossbar
PAC: #10 Balazs Szabo (4:03, 6-on-5, 3-1) cross shot to upper left
LBSU: #4 Dimitrios Lappas (2:36, 3-2)
PAC: #9 Balazs Erdelyi (2:18, 4-2) inside two meter
PAC: #9 Balazs Erdelyi (5:53, 6-on-5, 5-2)
PAC: #9 Balazs Erdelyi (3:59, 6-2) from distance
PAC: #9 Balazs Erdelyi (1:31, 6-on-5, 7-2)
LBSU: #2 Devin Mefford (1:03, 7-3)
LBSU: #8 Zacchary Kappos (6:04, 6-on-5, 7-4)
LBSU: #11 Milos Vrzic (4:26, 7-5)
PAC: #2 Goran Tomasevic (1:18, 8-5) two-meter turnaround
PAC: #11 Aleksandar Petrovic (3:51, 9-5)
LBSU: #2 Devin Mefford (2:35, 9-6)
LBSU: #11 Milos Vrzic (1:10, 9-7)
LBSU: Ljepopio 5 - 4 - 6 - 3 -- 18
PAC: Malkis 5 - 2 - 1 - 6 -- 14