Nic Prentice of San Marcos fights through a Rancho Cucamonga double team to score in the second period of the Royals’ 12-6 CIF playoff win. (Lily Chubb / Noozhawk photo)

Junior Nic Prentice carried the offense, and the San Marcos defense put on a dominating performance in a 12-6 victory over Rancho Cucamonga in a CIF-SS Division 2 second-round boys water polo playoff game on Thursday at Dos Pueblos’ Elings Aquatic Center.

Prentice scored five of his six goals in the first half as the Royals roared out to a 9-4 lead.

“We had a hard first round and our team bounced back,” said Prentice, referring to the 16-15 overtime win over Camarillo. “We’ve been overcoming sickness and illness, but our seniors really stepped up, and our goalie Matthew (Demboski) had a great game.”

San Marcos (19-9) will play at Westlake in a quarterfinal game on Saturday. The teams have played each three times this season, with the Royals winning twice.

The San Marcos defense was terrific on Thursday, as it rarely allowed the ball to reach Rancho’s centers. The Royals got solid performances from center defenders Lind, Alexi Stapf and Hudson Mcleod.

“We had a good game plan going into it,” said Prentice. “We watched a lot of film and prepared. We knew what they had at their game and we shut them down.”

The Royals jumped out a 3-0 lead on goals from Luke Burns, Jordan Lind and Prentice. 

Rancho (21-5) scored a pair of goals before Prentice answered with a perfectly timed tip-in of a pass from Emmett Haggerty. 

Demboski made a pair of blocks and Lind and Prentice responded with goals for a 6-2 lead at the end of the first period.

Goalie Matthew Demboski  reaches to knock away at Rancho Cucamonga shot during San Marcos’ CIF-SS Division 2 second-round victory.

Goalie Matthew Demboski reaches to knock away at Rancho Cucamonga shot during San Marcos’ CIF-SS Division 2 second-round victory. (Lily Chubb / Noozhawk photo)

After Rancho’s Tyler Murray made it 7-3 at 6:29 of the second period, Prentice scored an amazing goal. He fought off a double team and faked the goalie before putting the ball away for an 8-3 advantage.

“Much better turnout than Tuesday’s game,” said San Marcos coach Peera Sukavivatanachai. “I think we were a little nervous after playing that first game. But that win gave us a little more confidence, which definitely showed today.”

The Royals were successful in beating Rancho at the back post. 

“We knew they had a pretty decent center defender, so we were trying to create elsewhere other than Luke Burns at set,” Sukavivatanachai explained. Luke did a good job occupying a lot of defenders, so it opened  Nick a lot for sure on the other side (of the goal).”

San Marcos showed no let-up in the second half as it shut out the Cougars in the third period and got goals from Prentice and Lind to take a commanding 11-4 lead. Lind finished with three goals.

Now come the quarterfinals.

“We’re excited for the opportunity. It’ll be fun,” said Sukavivatanachai.

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