The Santa Maria Saints won two games Saturday at the Pioneer Valley High School boys’ water polo tournament.

The Saints began the day with an 11-0 victory over the host Pioneer Valley Panthers and then followed that up with a 4-2 win over Los Padres League rival Nipomo in the afternoon.

“I thought the Nipomo game was a very solid game for both teams. It really came down to who was going to make a mistake. We got a couple lucky breaks that led to fast break goals,” said Santa Maria coach Joshua Troeger. “In the game against Pioneer Valley, Austin Peinado, Angel Maceda and Aiden Lange each had a couple goals. Our spread offense worked perfectly and we were able to get a bunch of steals to keep Pioneer Valley from getting too many shots on goals.”

The Saints defense smothered the Panthers’ offense in the day’s first matchup, rarely allowing Pioneer Valley to get a clean shot on goal and when the Panthers did get the chance to shoot, Saints goal keeper Tommy Herrera was in position to stop every shot.

The second game was a much tighter match with both teams pressing the attack right from the start.

The Titans got off a shot just 30 seconds into the game but it bounced off the goal post.

One minute later, the Saints’ first shot went wide to the right.

Santa Maria’s pressure offense paid off when Angel Maceda lined up a shot from in front of the Nipomo goal and fired a strike into the net for the game’s first scored at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter.

Seconds later, Herrera stopped a shot from the right wing to keep Nipomo off the scoreboard.

Back and forth the teams went with each team getting two more good scoring opportunities before the quarter ended.

“We had a lot of good scoring opportunities early in the game but just didn’t capitalize,” said Nipomo coach Kurt Lindgren. “I think some bad passing hurt us but there were a lot of shots that we should have made.”

Nothing else went into the net and the first quarter ended with the Saints up 1-0.

In the second quarter, both defenses kept their opponents from even getting off a shot until midway through the six-minute period when the Saints’ Austin Peinado lofted a ball the just went over the top of the Nipomo’s keeper for the Saints’ second score with three minutes left in the first half.

Nipomo tried to match that but again Herrera was up to the challenge with a block on an excellent shot by Nipomo’s Blake Hudson.

Hudson took a pass at the two-meter spot directly in front of Herrera and, without looking, fired a low backhand shot directly to dead center of the goal. But Herrera wasn’t fooled by the quick shot, kept his eye on the ball and made another stellar save.

The Saints went back on offense, moved the ball quickly down the pool and got the ball back into Peinado’s hands. Instead of another floater, this time Peinado fired the ball as hard as he could, getting by the keeper’s right side for a 3-0 Santa Maria lead with 2:12 left in the half.

Nipomo came right back but again Herrera was up to the task, keeping his shutout intact.

The Saints got off two more shots before the half but the first was over the goal and the second went wide to the left.

The third quarter was scoreless but still packed plenty of action.

Santa Maria came out strong and got off a shot that was blocked.

Nipomo came back, lined up a shot that was also blocked.

Each team took three shots in the quarter and came up empty.

The pattern continued into the fourth quarter until Santa Maria’s Vincent Alvarado, from the right wing, found an open Peinado in front of the net who caught the pass and quickly took a shot that found the back left corner of the net with 3:46 left in the game.

But the Titans didn’t quit.

They actually increased the pressure, getting off the next two shots that Herrera smothered.

With time running out, Nipomo’s Evan Chavarria ended Herrera’s perfect day with a low shot from the right side that found the back of the net with 55-seconds remaining in the game to cut the lead to 4-1.

Then with 22-second left, Hudson scored Nipomo’s second goal from directly in front of the net for the game’s final score.

“This was a great opportunity for us. Our guys played great defense against Santa Maria’s spread offense,” said Lindgren. “Both teams played a good game.”

“This was a good matchup between two fairly well matched teams,” said Troeger. “In the last several years, Nipomo has become one of our big (Los Padres) league rivals so it was good to get a first look at each others’ teams in a game that doesn’t count toward league standings.”

The Titans finished the day with a 1-1 record. Nipomo defeated Pioneer Valley 9-0 earlier in the day.

In other games, St. Joseph dropped two games in the tournament.

Morro Bay defeated St. Joseph 12-1 in the morning and then Cabrillo beat St. Joseph 9-1 in the afternoon. The Knights’ Jameson Stahl scored St. Joseph’s lone goal in each game.

Cabrillo also beat Morro Bay 9-6 in an afternoon game.

San Joaquin Memorial won twice, defeating Nordhoff 9-6 in a morning matchup and Salinas 7-4 in the afternoon.

Pirates finish second at Corona Tournament

CORONA — The Santa Ynez Pirates finished second at the Corona Tournament on Saturday.

Santa Ynez fell to Redondo Union 9-6 in the championship game.

On the way to the title tilt, the Pirates breezed past four opponents.

Santa Ynez won Friday's tournament opener 19-4 over Eastvale Roosevelt and followed that with a 19-0 victory over Murrieta Mesa.

The Pirates began play Saturday with a 19-6 victory over Xavier Prep in the quarterfinals and a 14-6 win over South Pasadena in the semis.

"I'm extremely pleased with how we played. We definitely exceeded my expectations against some very good teams," said Santa Ynez coach Jake Kalkowski. "Tristan Durbiano was outstanding in goal and, on offense, we had four guys lead the way — Keller Haws, Connor Hiatt, Nolan Morrison and Henry Allen each had at least one five-goal game."

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Senior Sports Reporter