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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 3:42 am | Fair 51º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
Water Polo

Defense Shines for San Marcos in 13-8 Water Polo Win Over Dos Pueblos

Royals hold Chargers to two goals in the second half of Channel League game

Brittany Prentice of San Marcos looks for a teammate while being pressured by Abbi Hill of Dos Pueblos Click to view larger
Brittany Prentice of San Marcos looks for a teammate while being pressured by Abbi Hill of Dos Pueblos (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

It went from a shootout to a San Marcos stranglehold in Wednesday’s Channel League girls water polo showdown between the CIF-SS Division 1 third-ranked Royals and No. 4 Dos Pueblos.

After trading goals with the Chargers during a 7-6 first half, San Marcos stepped up its defensive play and dominated the second half en route to a 13-8 home victory.

The Royals in the second half held DP scoreless until the 3:16 mark of the fourth period. The defenders, led by senior Brittany Prentice, contained the Chargers’ best goal scorers, while goalie Sophie Trumbull cleaned up anything that happened to get through. She finished with eight saves and a steal.

“We tried to focus on a few things defensively a little different,” San Marcos coach Chuckie Roth said. “We tried to come up with a little game plan that we felt would eliminate touches on the ball by some of the players they try to get the ball to more often. I think it worked a little bit.”

Prentice, Piper Smith and Sarah Owens controlled the center of the defense. Prentice was solid at both ends of the pool. She had three steals, drew three ejections and scored two goals.

Paige Hauschild scored four goals for San Marcos. Click to view larger
Paige Hauschild scored four goals for San Marcos. (Peter Neushul photo)

"Brittany is all heart and she is a great leader. She plays for the team and the team plays for her," said Roth of the Michigan-bound Prentice.

The Royals (8-2, 3-0) frustrated the Chargers, who were playing without an injured Jewel Roemer, one of their best shooters. Ryann Neushul, Abbi Hill and Sophie Leggett each scored two goals for DP (13-4, 3-1).

“They really did a nice job on defense stopping our best attacks," DP coach Connor Levoff said. "(They) got a couple of blocks and forced a couple of turnovers and scored some easy goals and kind of got us out of our rhythm. And, we did not have an answer at the defensive end or offensive end. We kept getting looks and we couldn’t finish. Really disappointing day today.”

As the San Marcos defense was disrupting DP’s attack, four different Royals were scoring goals to build a 12-6 advantage. Freshman Cassidy Miller scored three during a 6-0 run and Prentice, Megan Musick and Smith supplied single goals.

Hill ended DP’s drought in the fourth period and Neushul followed with a power play goal to complete the Charger scoring.

Paige Hauschild threw in a shot from mid-pool to put an exclamation point on the win for San Marcos. The USC-bound Hauschild finished with four goals, Miller had three and Prentice and Owens each tallied two.

It was the Royals’ second win over DP in five days. They won a 9-7 decision in the third-place game of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions at the Elings Aquatic Center.

Of greater importance, Wednesday’s result gives San Marcos the early inside track to the league championship.

San Marcos’ second-half defensive dominance was in sharp contrast to the first half. It was a shooting gallery as the teams traded goals after Hauschild put away the first two for San Marcos. Owens also scored two in the first period for the Royals.

DP got two goals from Leggett and one from Hill, but the Chargers couldn’t score more because of Trumbull’s outstanding goalkeeping. She stopped a pair of shots near the end of the quarter to keep the Royals ahead 4-3.

After Toni Shackelford finished a Kayla Peacock assist to tie the score at 4-4 in the second period, the teams traded goals until Miller fired one in from the wing to put San Marcos in the lead for good at 7-6. Trumbull again made the lead stand up by making big save on Amelia Meckelborg with two seconds left in the half.

Then the San Marcos defense took charge.

“I think one thing that is really special about our team is we have great endurance, and we’re really able to push through moments like those and come together as a team. I’m just really happy we were able to come together and show (DP) who we are.”

San Marcos continues its heavy week of action with a game at second-ranked Mater Dei on Thursday. The Royals will travel further south for the Coronado Tournament over the weekend.

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