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SoCal Tournament Awaits Men's Water Polo

Sep 28, 2012

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Gameday Central
Date: Sept 29-30, 2012
Site: Dos Pueblos High School (UC Santa Barbara)
Time: All Day
Tournament Website: UCSBGauchos.com

The Pacific men's water polo team will compete at the annual SoCal Tournament this weekend in Santa Barbara, playing four games in two days in the 16-team bracket-style tournament. The Tigers open with No. 9 Long Beach State Saturday morning at 9:20 a.m. Also in Pacific's bracket are top-ranked USC and St. Francis (N.Y.).

"The SoCal Tournament is one of the two best tournaments of the year," head coach James Graham said. "You pretty much have the top 16 teams in the nation there, so it's going to be tough no matter what opponents you face. It's going to be a tough test for our young players, but it will help season us for the MPSF and we're looking forward to that."

At last year's SoCal Tournament at Long Beach State, Pacific finished seventh, defeating Pepperdine in overtime, 11-9. Junior Balazs Erdelyi led all scorers with five goals in the game while junior Alex Malkis notched nine blocks. The Tigers opened last year's tournament with a close loss to California before defeating Loyola Marymount later that afternoon. On Sunday, a golden goal doomed Pacific against UC Santa Barbara, putting the Tigers in the seventh-place match versus Pepperdine.

The Tigers are fresh off of a perfect 4-0 showing at last weekend's Aggie Shootout at UC Davis. Pacific was simply dominant, winning its four matches by an average of 9.5 goals. The Tigers opened with a 12-4 win over Redlands before cruising to a 21-11 victory over Cal Lutheran. Sunday was more of the same as Pacific defeated Claremont-M-S, 13-5, before routing La Verne, 18-6, to close out its unblemished weekend.

"It was a great weekend for our team to be able to work on its execution and tactics," Graham said. "We were able to get a lot of guys some experience and find out what everyone on the team is capable of."

Erdelyi was red-hot throughout the weekend, leading the team with 20 goals. He tied his career high with six goals in the Tigers' win over Claremont-M-S, and scored at least four goals in each of Pacific's three other matches. Erdelyi leads the Tigers with 31 goals on the year and is averaging 3.88 goals per game, tops in the MPSF. All told, 15 different Tigers scored over the weekend.

Malkis and sophomore Chris Hughes split time in the cage for Pacific. Malkis finished the weekend with 14 blocks while Hughes registered 23 saves.

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