The 2017 CIF Southern Section Division 7 girls water polo champion's playoff run ended in the first round this year.

Santa Ynez won the 2017 Division 7 title last year for the school's first-ever divisional girls water polo crown. The Pirates couldn't stay with Atascadero in a first-round Division 5 game at Arroyo Grande High School Tuesday.

The Greyhounds won 8-2. Much of the February weather on the Central Coast has consisted of well above average high temperatures, but that was not the case Tuesday. The teams played in intermittent sprinkles on a cool afternoon.

They also both played in an unfamiliar pool, forced to do so because neither school's pool has a deep end which is required for a team to host a playoff game. The game was Atascadero's home game.

The Greyhounds (17-7) were in control from the time Evy Cooper scored the first goal of the game, at the 6:35.58 mark of the first quarter.

The Pirates finished 5-10 in a trying 2017-18 campaign. They finished 4-1 in the Los Padres League once again, good for second place. Allison Alderete, in the third quarter, and Kylie Luke, in the fourth, scored for the Pirates Tuesday. 

"This has been a rebuilding year," said Santa Ynez assistant coach Kieran Graner. Among others, the Pirates lost their coach from last year, John Connolly and his daughter, Shannon Connolly, who was the Division 7 Player of the Year in 2017 as a freshman.

John Connolly has said he needed to move to be closer to his job after being re-located due to getting a promotion.

Besides, the Pirates lost several potential games because of the Thomas fire, and the mudslides in January that devastated Montecito and closed a portion of Highway 101 for a time.

Besides all that, Santa Ynez's pool was often out of commission because of maintenance problems.

"We were all over the place trying to get practice time in any pool we could, Most of the time we used the Santa Barbara City College pool," when the Pirates couldn't use their own, said Graner.

"Hats off to our athletic director, Cris Avery, who was constantly working to find a place for us to practice."

Tuesday, the Pirates couldn't solve a solid Atascadero defense. When the Pirates were on offense, the Greyhounds often either got to loose balls first or denied the Pirates a good shooting angle.

"They're aggressive girls and they're good," Graner said of the Greyhounds.

"They're also friendly. So are the parents. After the game, everyone was friendly with each other. With all we've been through, our girls did a wonderful job to get this far." 

Santa Ynez goal keeper Sidney Hill helped the Pirates stay close early by making a big save on an Atascadero shot from close in, but the Greyhounds eventually stretched their lead to 3-0 to enter the second quarter.

Alderete helped lead a Santa Ynez defense that was pretty solid itself for the most part, but Atascadero goal keeper Tina Bell helped the Greyhounds stifle the Pirates' offense.

Besides, Bell often uncorked an effective long pass to get the Greyhounds' counter game going. She also scored two goals herself on high, long shots from near her own goal.

Bell, Cooper and Aliman Shall all scored twice for the Greyhounds, who will play at Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the second round.

The Greyhounds finished 4-1 in the PAC 8 League during the regular season, the second-best regular season record in the league. However, the Greyhounds fell in the semifinals of the league tourney, which determined the PAC 8 seeding order for the playoffs. Atascadero is the third PAC 8 seed.          

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Sports Reporter