The Santa Barbara High seniors combined for nine of the team’s 10 first-half goals and the defense held off a late rally by Northwood to give the Dons a 10-9 victory in the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals on Wednesday at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
The Dons (26-6) move on to the championship game and will play Schurr on Saturday at the Woollett Center. Schurr defeated Beckman in the other semifinal.
Santa Barbara withstood a three-goal outburst by Northwood’s Max Abravanel the fourth period to reach the finals for the first time since 2012.
The Dons followed the pattern they’ve used so effectively during their playoff run: jumping on the opponent early, playing lockdown defense and getting stellar goaltending from Wyatt Pieretti.
“Our defense was playing very well because our communication was on point and we were helping back to make sure (Abravanel) did not get a shot off,” said junior Jordan Hayes.
On the early lead, Hayes said: “Getting off to an early advantage was great for us because it gave us confidence.”
Seniors Adam Coffin and Dylan Fogg each scored two goals and Chase Raisin added one to help the Dons take a 5-2 lead in the first period.
Fogg then went off for three goals in the second period and Coffin and Hayes tallied one each.
“Fogg, Coffin, Raisin and Kubinyi played great offense and great defense, leading us to a great start into the game,” said Hayes.
The defense held Northwood to two goals in the second period and none in the third, giving Santa Barbara a 10-4 advantage.
Abravanel tried to bring Northwood back, sparking a 5-0 run. But Pieretti made a couple of saves and the Dons got back-to-back steals to close out the win and book a ticket to the championship game.
Raisin had four steals and drew two ejections, Pieretti made eight saves and Jack Taylor and Sean O’Brien “played huge minutes off the bench, helping with the win,” said coach Mark Walsh.
It was the second straight one-goal win by the Dons in the playoffs. They won 11-10 in overtime at Los Osos in the quarterfinals.