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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 8:20 pm | Fair 52º

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Water Polo

San Marcos Comeback Falls Short Against Mater Dei

Cassidy Miller prepares to take a penalty shot during the fourth period. She converted to pull San Marcos within two goals of Mater Dei, 13-11. Click to view larger
Cassidy Miller prepares to take a penalty shot during the fourth period. She converted to pull San Marcos within two goals of Mater Dei, 13-11. (Peter Neushul photo)

The way Mater Dei was dominating play during the first half, San Marcos girls water polo coach Chuckie Roth told his team to not look at the scoreboard.

“Think about what we’re here for — it’s about the season right now,” he said of his message to the squad when it was down 4-0 at the end of the first period. “Don’t look at the scoreboard right now. Just play hard.”

The Royals did just that, fighting back from a 9-1 deficit. They scored the last two goals of the second period and then gave Mater Dei all it wanted in the second half before falling short, 14-12, in a battle between last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinalists on a foggy night at the Elings Aquatic Center.

“We started playing better and better and better,” said Roth, whose team last year beat Mater Dei, 11-9 in the semifinals. “I didn’t really know what the score was, I just knew we were losing. But the girls just fought. As a coach, that’s what you want, you want a team that’s going to come out and battle.”

Cassidy Miller and Sarah Owens provided the spark for San Marcos in the third period, scoring back-to-back goals to cut Mater Dei’s lead to 11-8 with 2:09 left in the period.

Miller finished with four goals and Owens had three, all coming in the second half as the Royals outscored Mater Dei 9-5.

“These girls just need a few games like this to spark that up. That’s something we’re developing,” Roth said. 

Goalie Sophie Trumbull stopped a shot on a Monarchs’ power play and Owens scored on a San Marcos 6-on-5 situation to pull the Royals within two, 11-9, with 1:05 to go.

Mater Dei's Brooke Banta scored on a power-play before the end of the quarter and Hannah Constandse blew past a defender for the first goal of the fourth period to put the Monarchs ahead 13-9.

Owens answered for San Marcos and Fiona Kuesis drew a penalty shot, which Miller converted to make it 13-11. 

Mater Dei standout Grace Thawley then put an exclamation point on a stellar performance by scoring on an impressive backhand shot with 3:08 to go. She finished as the game’s high scorer with seven goals.

“She’s legit, she’s going to Harvard next year,” said Roth.

Both teams missed shots before the Royals’ Miller scored from long range for the final goal of the game.

Thawley and Constandse had their way in the first half for Mater Dei, combining for goals and drawing fouls.

Sarah Owens of San Marcos denies a pass intended for Mater Dei’s Bella Baia. Click to view larger
Sarah Owens of San Marcos denies a pass intended for Mater Dei’s Bella Baia. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

San Marcos had three players (Piper Smith, Lili Rose Akin and Claire Kronen) foul out in the game.

“They were very physical and they came out ready to play, and they played very well and fast,” Roth said of the Monarchs. “I don’t think we were ready to play at that level.”

But the Royals crept back into the game and put a scare into Mater Dei.

“That was a rough opening to the game, then from there we got better, Roth said. “This year is about growth for us, it’s not about being the best team right now. It’s about getting better every day.

“We got better in this game and that’s something positive.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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