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Long Beach’s 13-10 Beating of Ventura Is an Inside Job

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Ventura College water polo team found itself in an unusual position Friday. Although the Pirates beat Long Beach City College by three goals earlier this season, they still felt intimidated by the Vikings.

Ventura was worried with good reason. In a Southern California Regional quarterfinal match at Belmont Plaza, Long Beach used a physical game to take an early lead and hold on for a 13-10 victory.

The loss ended Ventura’s season. Had the fourth-seeded Pirates (22-8-1) won, they would have qualified for the State championships in Merced next week. Instead, fifth-seeded Long Beach (18-6-3) advanced.

“The first time we played Long Beach, we didn’t know what to expect, so their style didn’t hurt us,” said sophomore Andy Bruininga. “But now we knew what they were all about. We were a little intimidated before we even started playing.”

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Frank Osorio and Peter Muller used physical inside play to help Long Beach to a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. Ventura didn’t have a shot on goal until Janko Gogolja scored on a six-on-five advantage with just under a minute left in the quarter.

“There’s no question they came out physical and we didn’t respond well at all,” Ventura Coach Larry Barratte said.

The inside play by Osorio and Muller led to several easy scores by Jeremy Wilson, who led Long Beach with seven goals.

Four of Wilson’s goals came in a five-minute span over the first and second quarters, and staked Long Beach to a 7-2 lead.

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A two-point goal by John Argel helped close the gap, but Ventura trailed, 8-5, at halftime.

Ventura did make a run in the third quarter by shutting down Long Beach’s physical play and scoring on goals by Argel and Bruininga. The Pirates appeared to tie the game, 8-8, midway through the period but David Ford’s goal was disallowed.

But Long Beach responded by scoring five consecutive goals, three by Wilson, to put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter.

“We changed some things with the six on five,” Bruininga said. “Our strategy worked for a while but they adjusted and kept us from our game again.”

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Ventura was forced to try several two-point shots in an effort to get back in the game but succeeded just once, a long shot by Gogolja with less than a minute left.

“It’s disappointing, we were looking to win the state this year,” said Bruininga, a former Royal High standout.

“But these kinds of games happen sometimes.”

Argel finished with three goals, including one two-pointer. Bruininga and Gogolja (one two-pointer) each had two for Ventura.

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