The St. Joseph Knights beat the Nipomo Titans to the ball on the game’s opening sprint.
But the Titans threw the opening punch on their way to a 16-9 victory in their CIF Central Section Ocean League boys water polo match Wednesday afternoon at Nipomo High School.
“We were hoping for a lot closer game. We had a lot of kids who were ill or just coming back from an illness but they still went out there and tried hard.”
Less than one minute into the game, the Titans worked the ball around the horn from Coleman Brown to Garrett Sellers to Lucas Anter who put up a quick shot from in close — dumping a soft lob over Knights’ goal keeper Luc Licoscos for the game’s first score.
Just 21 seconds later, Brown gathered in a pool-length pass, turned and fired to put the Titans up 2-0 and Nipomo was rolling.
St. Joseph answered at 3:32 of the first quarter when Ryan Galanski rocketed a shot from the middle of the pool that flew past Nipomo keeper Jordan Cramer to cut the Titans lead to 2-1 but that was as close as the Knights would get although Galanski made a habit of scoring from out, netting four of his game-high six goals from somewhere near the middle of the pool.
Nipomo scored three more first quarter goals for an early 5-1 lead.
Anter dumped another soft lob over Licoscos at 2:15; Sellers skipped one past the goalie from 5-meters out at :48; and Eric Anter put the ball into the lower right corner of the net with time running down at the 15-second mark.
Keeping the pressure on, Lucas Anter found the lower right corner of the net 43-seconds into the second quarter for a commanding 6-1 lead.
Galanski skipped the ball into the goal at 5:03, cutting the Titans’ lead to 6-2 but Sellers countered with a point blank shot at 4:03.
The teams traded goals over the last four minutes of the half with Galanski scoring on a tip-in and Justin Jones finding the net from 5-meters out for the Knights and Sellers hitting two very long shots from the middle of the pool for the Titans to give Nipomo a 9-4 lead heading into the break.
The Knights switched to John Tonascia in goal for the second half but that didn’t stop the Titans’ onslaught.
Licoscos and Tonascia were pressed into service minutes before the St. Joseph season-opener when starting keeper Joseph Iliff broke a finger during pregame warm-ups. The rookie goalies continue to show improvement every game but their experience showed in Wednesday’s loss.
“They’re both doing well and John did a nice job in the second half,” said McNeil. “We had to improvise and put them in goal with no notice when we started the season.”
Nathan Aguilar scored twice followed by another Sellers goal as Nipomo widened its lead to 12-4 before Galanski briefly slowed the Titans’ momentum with goal from in close with 4:50 left in the half.
Both defenses stiffened over those final minutes with neither team scoring while both goalies stopped everything that came their way despite several strong scoring opportunities by each side so the score remained 12-4 at halftime.
With 2:58 left in the half, Sellers —— who had already scored five goals – picked up his third exclusion and was disqualified from the rest of the game.
But they still had Lucas Anter in the pool, who matched Sellers with five goals.
Nipomo built its lead to 14-6 after three quarters with all the scoring in the final two minutes.
Louis Di Modica made it 13-5 Nipomo with a shot to the left of Tonascia at 1:54.
With a man advantage, the Knights’ Jones found the net from 2-meters out with 1:08 left and, seconds later, Di Modica skipped one into the net with 52-seconds remaining.
Although Galanski scored again, with another long shot early in the fourth quarter, the Titans kept the pressure on until the final whistle, taking their last shot with just 3-seconds to go in the game.
Galanski led St. Joseph with six goals; Jones had the other three.
Licoscos came up with three first-half saves. Tonascia stopped six shots in the second half.
Lucas Anter and Sellers each found the net five times for Nipomo, Di Modica scored three goals and Aguilar, Brown and Eric Anter each scored once.
“We’ll play Nipomo again at the end of the league season. We’re looking forward to facing them at our pool — the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center pool — in the middle of October,” said McNeil. “I’m hoping by then that everybody will be healthy and we’ll really get after it. We want to do as well as we can leading up to the (regular season-ending) Ocean League Tournament.”
Both teams continue Ocean League play next Wednesday.
St. Joseph (2-1 Ocean League) hosts Morro Bay at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center while Nipomo (1-2) will be on the road at Santa Maria High.
Santa Ynez 14, Paso Robles 4
The Santa Ynez Pirates rolled to a big non-league victory over the Paso Robles Bearcats Tuesday on the Pirates’ home courts.
Pirates singles players won six of their nine sets while their doubles teams were even more dominant, winning eight of nine.
At No. 1 doubles, Tristan Bunderson and Sophia Curti swept their sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
The No. 2 doubles team of Clara Newton and Lexi Hemming won two of three; 6-3, 6-2.
At No. 3, Mckenna Olsen and Emmy Withrow rolled to 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 wins.
Claire Collison, the No. 1 singles players, swept 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 while No. 2 Alexa Yacoub won once set and No. 3 Lauren Thorburn won two.
Santa Ynez (8-3) hosts Nordhoff on Thursday.
Arroyo Grande 12, San Marcos 6
The Eagles traveled to San Marcos and came back to SLO County with a win. They're now 13-2 overall and will continue Mountain League play Thursday with a match at Righetti.
Arroyo Grande is 6-0 in league matches.
Josceline Ramirez and Delanie Dunkle both swept in singles for the Eagles. Ramirez won 6-4, 6-1 and 6-0. Dunkle, a senior who has verbally committed to play tennis at Cal Poly, went 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0.
Kaitlin Zarate won twice at the No. 3 singles spot, beating the Royals' No. 1 singles player 6-4 and winning 6-1 vs. the Royals' No. 3.
Peyton Dunkle and Emma Mostajo won in doubles twice, 7-5 (6) and 6-0.