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Water Polo

Santa Barbara Water Polo Falls to No. 1 Los Osos in CIF Semifinals, 8-5

Adam Coffin Click to view larger
Adam Coffin of Santa Barbara scored a goal for the Dons. (Wanda Hayes photo)

Santa Barbara High’s water polo playoff run came to an end in the CIF semifinals on Wednesday.

The Dons were held to two goals in the second half and lost to top-seeded Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, 8-5, in the Division 3 final four at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.

"They did a good job," Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said of the Grizzlies (19-13). "We weren’t able to hit any of our outside shots like they were. And, we had a couple of 6-on-5s where we didn’t quite make the right read or we turned the ball over.

"​Their defense was real solid," he added. "I don’t know how good their goalie was. We shot a lot of balls outside the post. We never really gave ourselves a chance."

Travis Berzins, Los Osos' 6-foot-4 center, gave the Grizzlies a 5-3 lead in the third period.

Julian Bacon scored near the end of the period to pull Santa Barbara within a goal.

The Dons (18-16) had two cracks at tying the score early in the fourth period but they were unable to convert.

Adam Coffin in face off Click to view larger
Adam Coffin wins a face-off with Michael French of Los Osos during Wednesday’s CIF Division 1 semifinal water polo game. (Wanda Hayes photo)

Los Osos earned a power play but Santa Barbara goalie Wyatt Pieretti denied the Grizzlies to keep it a one-goal difference.

"He’s really explosive and he covers a lot of the cage, and he’s fearless and he reads the game well," said Walsh of Pieretti. "He’s one of many freshmen that we’re excited about. We’re ready to build on the future with good juniors and sophomores as well."

Los Osos capitalized on a Santa Barbara turnover to go up by two goals, 6-4.

Adam Coffin scored for the Dons to make it a 6-5 game with 2:36 left in the fourth period.

But Berzins anserwered for Los Osos for a 7-5 lead. The Grizzlies threatened again, but the freshman Pieretti came up big and made the save.

Los Osos forced another turnover and Michael French scored into an open net for an 8-5 lead with 28 seconds left.

"If you take away the open goal, we held a good team to seven goals. That’s good enough defense," said Walsh. 

Bacon and Chase Raisin gave Santa Barbara a 2-0 lead in the first period. Kollin McClanahan got one back for Los Osos, and the Grizzlies denied a couple of attempts from Jordan Hayes to keep it a 2-1 game at the end of the period.

The Grizzlies got back-to-back goals from Connor Mannion and McClanahan in the second period to take the lead, 3-2.

The Dons turned the ball over a couple of times but they were saved by the play of Pieretti.

"He was great all game," Walsh said of his goalie. "He made some great saves. Most of the shots they had were pretty good shots from good angles and 6-on-5s. I thought for a freshman he was steady and right on. So I was really excited. A lot of times in these games the goalies are a little jumpy and nervous and he was right on it."

Bronson Blix tied the score for Santa Barbara just before the end of the second period.

"Their defense was real solid," Walsh said of Los Osos. "I don’t know how good their goalie was. We shot a lot of balls outside the post." 

Walsh was pleased how his team improved during the season and advanced to the semifinals.

"Only four got to be a part of it. I’m glad we got to be a part of it and, hopefully, we can learn from this," he said. "We only graduate one guy who plays a lot.

"These guys are excited for the challenge," he added. "I think they want to be part of a deep run for years to come."

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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