Ben Weber
San Marcos goalie Ben Weber stops a shot by Santa Barbara’s Julian Bacon as Royals James Oriskovich (5) and Liam McCarthy defend. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The biggest guy in the pool made a huge impact in Thursday’s crosstown water polo battle between San Marcos and Santa Barbara.

James Oriskovich scored the go-ahead goal in the first overtime period and added the game clincher in the second overtime to give San Marcos an exciting 11-9 victory in the Channel League opener for both teams at the Royals’ pool.

The 6-foot-7 Oriskovich fought off the tenacious defending of Jordan Hayes and overcame foul trouble to score a game-high five goals.

“Early we had a little trouble scoring out of two meters and we had trouble finding him,” San Marcos coach Peera Sukavivatanachai said. “But eventually (the guys) started to be a little more patient, kind of like how we played last weekend (at the Villa Park Tournament), working the zone and just finally finding him at the very last opportunity. It’s a very small window of opportunity. I’m glad we hit it.”

Liam McCarthy provided a couple nice feeds that Oriskovich finished for leads of 7-6 in the third period and 8-7 lead early in the fourth period. Oriskovich also finished a Caiden Heinze entry pass for a 10-9 lead at the 1:52 mark of the first three-minute overtime and capped the scoring off another McCarthy assist with 41 seconds left in the second extra period.

“He’s been doing a lot of great work for us,” Sukavivatanachai said of McCarthy. “He’s our two-meter defender too.”

Oriskovich thanked his teammates for setting him up.

Caiden Heinze

Caiden Heinze of San Marcos beats Santa Barbara goalie Hunter Brownell with a shot inside the near post. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“I work with my teammates a lot on entry passes,” he said. “I got to give them almost all the credit. They gave me some good passes.”

Oriskovich did most of his damage while playing with two ejections.

“I was a little scared to get another ejection. I had to stop what I was doing and refocus in a more positive manner,” he said.

“He’s a beast,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said of Oriskovich. “We obviously don’t have anyone who can guard him, but I thought we did as good a job as we could. We made some mistakes, but credit to him, he kept working. He played great.”

Trevor Ricci added three goals and Caiden Heinze had two for the Royals.

Santa Barbara was led by Julian Bacon and Dylan Fogg with three goals apiece.

The game was tight from the start. The score was 2-2 at the end of the first period, 4-4 after two periods, 7-6 in favor of San Marcos at the end of three and tied 9-9 at the end of regulation.

Hayes made a beautiful side-armed pass to Bronson Blix for a goal and Fogg scored on a counterattack to give Santa Barbara a two-goal lead at 6-4 in the third period.

With the score tied 9-9, San Marcos goalie Ben Weber blocks shot by Santa Barbara’s Jordan Hayes in final seconds of regulation. The Royals won in OT. 11-9

— NoozhawkSports (@NoozhawkSports) October 5, 2018

But San Marcos capitalized on several Santa Barbara fouls and scored three unanswered goals on power plays to take a 7-6 lead going into the fourth period. The go-ahead goal was scored by Oriskoivch off a feed from McCarthy on the right wing.

Walsh felt the 3-0 run was the turning point in the game.

“We went up by two and they pull James out,” he said. “They got four ejections in a row and scored on three of them. We’re up two, they go on a 3-0 run and their center is not even in and we’re getting kicked out all over the place.”

Walsh also pointed to his team’s struggles on the power play as a determining factor in the outcome.

“It’s almost embarrassing. That was the game,” he said. “Their’s was great. We were bad on 6 on 5 offense and we were bad on 5 on 6 defense and you can’t be bad on both and expect to win. 

“Credit to San Marcos, they made their shots and made blocks, steals or goalie saves on our 6 on 5. We’ll learn from it.”

San Marcos goalie Ben Webber was a difference maker. He made 14 saves, including a pair in the final seconds of regulation and the scored deadlocked at 9-9. He tipped a shot by Ryan Drake with 32 seconds left and then blocked a shot by Hayes from close range just before the buzzer.

He also made a clutch save in the second overtime before Oriskovich scored the game-clinching goal.

Liam McCarthy feeds James Oriskovich for goal to give San Marcos an 8-7 lead in the fourth period. The Royals won 11-9 in overtime

— NoozhawkSports (@NoozhawkSports) October 5, 2018

“He’s familiar with a lot of those kids. They play on the same club team. He’s very familiar how they shoot and how they move,” said Sukavivatanachi of his freshman goalie.

“A lot of guys made big plays for them,” said Walsh. “Anytime a game goes into overtime there’s a million little things you can look at that were big plays. We had a couple of skips that were literally on the goal line. Any one of those could have been the winning shot. That little look we had with one second to go, that sneaks in… 

“But their goalie made a big save. Maybe the goalie is the difference there.”

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Barry Punzal, Noozhawk Sports Editor

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.