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Water Polo

Santa Barbara High’s Water Polo Season Ended by Dana Hills in CIF Wild-Card Game

Adam Coffin of Santa Barbara looks for an open teammate while being guarded by Current McCarthy of Dana Hills. Click to view larger
Adam Coffin of Santa Barbara looks for an open teammate while being guarded by Current McCarthy of Dana Hills. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

For about 12 minutes, the Santa Barbara High boys water polo team hung tough with a strong Dana Hills squad in a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 wild-card playoff game on Wednesday.

The Dons were down 3-2 after Jacob Castillo scored off a nice cross-pool pass from Dylan Fogg at the 2:15 mark of the second period.

But Dana Hills picked up its game and scored three unanswered goals in the last 1:20 of the period and outscored the Dons 3-1 in the third period en route to a 13-6 win at the Santa Barbara pool.

Dana Hills advances to a first-round game on Thursday at fourth-seeded Laguna Beach.

“They’re just so much faster than us,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said of the Dolphins (14-15), the No. 3 team from the tough South Coast League. “That was a tough draw for us. We just don’t have the speed to swim with them. We were able to do it for quarter, obviously. That’s why we were still in the game. But the counters just got more and more and bigger and bigger and it was just impossible to cover up.”

The Dons (13-17) also were frustrated by goalie Justin Edward, who stopped four good shots in the first period, allowing Dana Hills to hold onto a 1-0 lead. 

Chase Raisin of the Dons drew a major ejection and Castillo converted a penalty shot to pull them within 6-3 at 6:35 of the third period. But the Dolphins responded with a penalty shot from Kaden Likins and back-to-back goals by Current McCarthy to open up a 9-3 advantage going into the final period.

“At times, they were up two or three guys in one possession and it was just too much to ask,” Walsh said of defending against the Dolphins. “It was a tough challenge. We lost (senior) Evan Blix (before the game) with a broken ear drum, so he wasn’t able to play and he’s our fastest guy. He would have helped.

“I’m proud how the guys battled, they definitely gave it their all,” he added.

Castillo led Santa Barbara with four goals, Adam Coffin and RJ Goligoski each scored one.

Walsh has a young group of players, so the future looks bright for the Dons

“I’m really excited,” he said, “We played a lot of sophomores today; even our one junior is really young. We made a lot of improvements this year. I told them where they were at this time last year and where they were at the beginning of hell week and where they are now, the difference is just so great. They really enjoy coming to practice and they trained hard and they’re really serious about being athletes and learning their craft and getting better at it, refusing to be satisfied where they’re at. It’s been a fun group to coach.”

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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