Nipomo got a nice win. St. Joseph showed well.
That seemed to be the bottom line for both of these boys water polo teams in the season opener for both. The Titans beat the Knights 10-5 at Nipomo Wednesday.
"They finished high in their league last year and they were in the playoffs," said second-year St. Joseph coach Bianca McNeil. "It's been awhile for our guys," since the Knights have been in the post-season.
Nipomo made it to the quarterfinals in the CIF Southern Section divisional playoffs last year after finishing second to Santa Ynez in the Los Padres League.
"We have a lot of new players, and I thought we competed with them very well," said McNeil.
Nipomo coach Kurt Lindgren said, "It's the first game, and you never know quite what to expect from either team.
"I was pretty pleased overall. I was really pleased with our defense. St. Joseph had a couple of threats."
The St. Joseph threats Lindgren was likely referring to were Ryan Galanski and Jamison Stahl. They are two returning players the Knights do have, and they scored three and two goals respectively Wednesday.
The Titans' scoring was spread around. Klay Funez popped in three goals, Josh Dittenhoefer and Blake Hudson scored two goals apiece, and Evan Chavarria, Garrett Sellars and Lucas Ahler all scored once.
The Knights struggled for the most part to get off shots. When they did, Nipomo goalkeeper Jordan Cramer was usually up to the task. He made 11 saves.
St. Joseph goalkeeper Joseph Iliff helped the Knights stay in contention early. He made most of his five saves then. Most of Iliff's saves were on shots from in close.
Besides Cramer's work, the Titans often effectively got into the Knights' passing lanes.
"Our defense has always been ahead of our offense," said Hudson, a four-year varsity player. "It's what we work on most in practice."
As for the offenses, there was one goal in the first quarter. That was by Dittenhoefer.
"Our offense was playing way too fast early," said Hudson. "Then we started making the extra pass. It's all communication."
Galanski drew St. Joseph to within 5-3 when he scored at the 3:38 mark of the third quarter. The Titans closed the quarter on a 4-1 run, and the Knights couldn't threaten again.
Hudson drew three defenders toward him, flicked the ball to Dittenhoefer and Dittenhoefer scored to make it 6-3.
Funez scored on the first power play of the game, Stahl answered for the Knights on the second one to make it 7-4 then the Titans came up with two turnovers that they turned into easy goals.
Hudson was an anchor for the Titans in both ends of the pool.
"Blake is a leader for us, and I'm really proud of the way he played," said Lindgren. "He played the whole game."
With a win under their belts after a successful 2016 campaign, the Titans are eagerly looking ahead.
"We lost a lot of good players to graduation, but we have good players coming back and I think we'll do really well," said Hudson.
Nipomo will host Paso Robles at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and St. Joseph will play Cabrillo at 2:30 p.m. at Paul Nelson Pool the same day. Both games are non-league ones.
Dos Pueblos 230, Santa Ynez 288
Co-medalists Julia Forstner and Gabby Minier shot a three-over 39 on the front nine at Glen Annie Golf Club and led Dos Pueblos to a win in the season opener for both teams.
Hannah Cho came in at 43 for the Chargers. Teammates following were Nicole Calene (46) and Sierra Ortiz (63).
Erinn Callaghan led the Pirates with a 53. Teammates following were Gracie Church (54), Olivia Cortopassi (59), Morgan Blunt (60) and Hannah Gechter (62).
Morro Bay 290, Santa Maria 346
The Pirates defeated the Saints at Morro Bay Golf Course in a Los Padres League match, the season opener for both teams.
Medalist Lauren Augusta led the Pirates with a 52 over the nine-hole course.
Sarah Martinez (55), Abbie Burrus (56), Zic Pancum (59) and Rachel Brindley (62) followed for the Pirates.
Kailani Balderama led the Saints with a 64. Briana Nunez (67), Maritza Reyes (68), Anahy Torres (69) and Alicia Olivera (78) followed.