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Water Polo

Santa Barbara Falls Behind Early, Loses CIF Quarterfinal Against No. 2 Orange Lutheran

Missed opportunities and Orange Lutheran’s high-pressure defense were too much for Santa Barbara High to overcome in Saturday’s CIF Division 1 girls water polo quarterfinals.

The second-seeded Lancers had 21 steals, took a 9-1 lead in the third period and went on to defeat the Dons, 14-5, in the second game of a quarterfinals doubleheader at the SBHS pool. No. 3 seed San Marcos won the opener, 8-5, over Corona del Mar.

Santa Barbara’s Kristina Garcia converted a 5-meter penalty shot to tie the score at 1-1 in the first period. But the Dons’ offense struggled to get anything going after that.

Orange Lutheran pressured Santa Barbara into mistakes and turnovers and the Lancers capitalized on several of those opportunities. Myna Simmons got free on attacks and buried six goals.  UCLA-bound Emma Skelly had three goals and USC signee Tyler Kelsey scored one goal and dished out six assists.

“We chose the wrong day to have one of our worst games of the year,” said Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh. “I know they had somewhat to do with it but a lot of it was self-inflicted.”

Walsh tried to keep things positive as the Lancers extended their lead.

“I just kept on hoping at some point we could get the deficit to five or four goals,” he said. “We kept saying, ‘Let’s get back one goal a quarter. OK, let’s shrink it by two this quarter.’ We were never able to do that, so you try to keep it positive. I’ve come back from 5-6 goals in a game late, so I know anything is possible. But it wasn’t our day.”

Santa Barbara didn’t score its second goal until the 1:48 mark of the third period on a shot by Grace Raisin. The Lancers answered with the Simmons sister act, Mollie feeding Myna for the team’s 10th goal of the game.

“We lost to them last year in the first round of CIF,” Walsh said. “I know they’re very talented. Unfortunately, you didn’t see us at our best today.”

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