Tigers Return Home For Pair Of MPSF Matches
Date: Saturday, Nov. 10 & Sunday, Nov. 11
Time: 12 p.m.
Site: Chris Kjeldsen Aquatics Complex
Live Video: PacificTigers.com
After three straight league road contests, the Pacific men's water polo team returns home to Kjeldsen Pool this weekend for a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. The Tigers will square off with the Gauchos on Saturday, Nov. 10, before facing the second-ranked Bruins the following Sunday. Both matches are set to begin at noon.
Pacific (11-7, 2-2 MPSF) continued its conference road swing with two contests at UC Irvine and Long Beach State last weekend, earning hard-fought victories in both matches. The Tigers edged the Anteaters, 14-12, last Friday before beating the 49ers in sudden-victory overtime, 14-13, last Sunday. The two wins guaranteed Pacific a spot in this year's MPSF Tournament, held the weekend after Thanksgiving at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium in Los Angeles. The Tigers have now qualified for the tournament in four consecutive seasons under head coach James Graham.
A big reason for Pacific's success last weekend was the stellar play of junior Balazs Erdelyi. The Hungarian attacker netted four goals in each of the Tigers' wins, including the game-winner in the second sudden-victory period against Long Beach State, propelling him to MPSF Player of the Week honors. Erdelyi has been Pacific's main offensive weapon all season, racking up 65 goals and averaging 3.82 goals per game, both tops in the conference. He has 14 multi-goal games on the year, including four four-goal outings, a pair of five-goal performances and two six-goal showings. He set a new career high with nine goals in the Tigers' win over Santa Clara back on Oct. 12.
Freshman Aleksandar Petrovic also had a big weekend for the Tigers, notching his third hat trick of the season against UC Irvine before setting a career high with four scores versus Long Beach State. He now has 26 goals on the year, good for third on the team.
Last weekend also saw the return of sophomore center Alex Obert to Pacific's lineup. The Loomis native had not played since Oct. 5 but showed little signs of rust, going for four goals against UC Irvine. He added a goal in the Tigers' win over Long Beach State, upping his total to 36 on the year, ranking eighth in the league with 2.40 goals per game.
UC Santa Barbara (15-7, 1-4 MPSF) enters its contest against Pacific with four losses in its last six outings. The Gauchos' lone league win came over UC Irvine back on Oct. 21. The Tigers have yet to face UCSB this season, but defeated the Gauchos in two of their three meetings last year, including the final contest at the MPSF Tournament. Erdelyi recorded a combined five goals in both of Pacific's wins.
Conversely, UCLA (22-2, 4-0 MPSF) has been playing stellar water polo all season long and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak into the weekend. Pacific has faced the Bruins once already this season, falling, 9-4, at the NorCal Tournament back in September. Erdelyi and Obert accounted for all of the Tigers' goals in the match, recording two scores apiece. Pacific trailed by two at the half but managed only one goal in the second half as the Bruins' defense led UCLA to victory.