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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 10:31 pm | Overcast 49º

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

San Marcos Has Its Way Against Santa Barbara, 7-2

San Marcos freshman Cassidy Miller sets her sights on scoring against Santa Barbara in Thursday’s Channel League game. Click to view larger
San Marcos freshman Cassidy Miller sets her sights on scoring against Santa Barbara in Thursday’s Channel League game. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

The speed and strength of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 third-ranked San Marcos girls water polo team overcame the defensive tactics of Santa Barbara High for a 7-2 win in a Channel League game at the Dons’ pool on a rainy Thursday.

Lili Rose Akin scored three goals for the Royals (3-0 overall and in league), who pulled away in the second half by shutting out No. 10 Santa Barbara (2-1, 1-1).

“We were more focused on not giving up a lot of easy goals and that was more of our emphasis,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said of his game plan. “Offense was never really talked about very much. We know they have a lot of really strong, fast girls, so they make it really hard to move the ball around. And they have a good goalie.”

The Dons were able to get some shots off in their half-pool sets but it was tough against an active San Marcos defense, led by Piper Smith and returning all-league goalie Sophie Trumbull.

“We got the ball in the set a lot. They just have some good defenders,” said Walsh.

"Piper Smith was awesome today," San Marcos coach Chuckie Roth said. "She was very good at center defense. She anchored our defense that held (Grace) Raisin to just one goal on a counter. Trumbull was solid in the goal. She made several very good blocks and showed great leadership."

Santa Barbara’s tactics worked well in the early part of the game as it made a couple of stops and threw long to Grace Raisin for one-on-one situations. Alex Szymczak hit Raisin with a perfect pass and Raisin beat Trumbull to tie the score at 1-1 early in the second period.

Piper Smith of San Marcos fires a shot on goal against Santa Barbara goalie Faith Tedesco. Click to view larger
Piper Smith of San Marcos fires a shot on goal against Santa Barbara goalie Faith Tedesco. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

San Marcos responded with Ella Prentice scoring inside off a nice feed from Megan Musick. Akin scored on a power play for a 3-1 lead.

Kai McGeoy converted on a Santa Barbara power play to make it 3-2, and Dons’ freshman goalie Faith Tedesco came up with two big saves in the final seconds of the quarter to keep it a one-goal game.

San Marcos took control in the second half. Akin scored her second goal and Smith fired one in from the wing to put the Royals up 5-2.

In the fourth period, Brittany Prentice fed Akin inside for the sixth goal and Fiona Kuesis scored to complete the scoring.

"So proud of our girls today," Roth said. "This was our first true start to the season. Usually we play 8 or 9 games by now, but with Paige (Hauschild) off at Youth Worlds we wanted to play the season together as a team as much as possible."

Walsh felt his team did well against a strong opponent.

“I thought we played great. I couldn’t have been prouder of our girls,” he said. “We were down one at half against the No. 3 team in Division 1.”

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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