After finishing fifth at the Channel League Tournament, Cabrillo's boys water polo team awaited its CIF Southern Section playoff fate.

The Conqs found out their path Saturday morning, earning an at-large bid for the Division 5 playoffs. Cabrillo is at Rowland in the first-round of the playoffs Tuesday.

After enduring losses in the opening day of the Channel League Boys Water Polo Tournament, the Cabrillo and Santa Ynez bounced back convincingly on Thursday in the final day of the event held at the Lompoc Aquatic Center.

Here’s how both teams fared:

Cabrillo 16, Lompoc 3

Facing the possibility of finishing sixth at the Channel League Tournament, the Conquistadores started off fast – and put the game away right away against city rival Lompoc High in the fifth-place showdown.

The Braves tacked on the first goal of the day through Robbie Theis, who fired his goal in after nearly the first two minutes of play in the first quarter. But it was all CHS from there.

Garrett Stanton tied things up at one with his goal. Then, Josh Rowe tossed in the first of three goals in the first quarter. Rowe’s shooting, along with Stanton, Travis Blackstone and Joseph Min, helped put CHS up 7-1 after the first.

In the second, Luke Benchek set the tone for CHS there with his goal. Then, Sage Brady flung in the first of his two goals in the second. Cabrillo went on to take a 12-1 halftime lead.

Overall, eight different Conquistadores got on the scoring sheet against the Braves including Carson Martin and Josh Luna – a number CHS head coach Jeff Dacus took a liking to.

“We’ve had some games where a lot of different guys were scoring. So that was good to be well-rounded,” Dacus said.

Rowe and Stanton wound up with three goals on the day. Dacus raved about the performance and versatility of Rowe.

“Josh Rowe is an animal. He’s a machine out there,” Dacus said. “In games like this, we have to give him different jobs. He can’t be the scorer, then he has to be the guy making the assist or the guy making the pick and good steal – and he’s played the roles well.”

Brady had a relative quiet day scoring wise in the first day of the Channel League tournament. But it was much different this time around against LHS. Yet, Dacus pointed out that Brady has had games that have seen him find the net multiple times.

“He’s had games like this before,” Dacus said. “He got after it. He had some good moves and they were well-placed shots.”

But now comes the speculation and anxiety part of the boys water polo season for this CHS team: Wondering when and where their next game will be for the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. Dacus says that a majority of the teams in that division don’t know much about the Conqs, and the Conqs aren’t too familiar with them.

“We don’t have any idea what they have. But they don’t have any idea what we have. It’s going to be a big unknown factor for all of us,” Dacus said. “We haven’t seen any of them this whole season – so we’ll find out.”

Dacus concluded “There’s a possibility of us getting a home game if we get a wildcard game, but more than likely we’ll be on the road.”

Julian Torres and James Francisco scored the other goals for Lompoc High.

Santa Ynez 12, San Marcos 9

While the Pirates got off to a huge 5-1 advantage in the first quarter, the Royals refused to go away.

San Marcos sliced the lead to 5-4 in the second quarter. That was until Keller Haws broke up the Royal run with back-to-back goals late in the second.

Henry Allen threw the ball inside the cross bars twice for two goals in the third, but a 9-6 Santa Ynez lead quickly evaporated to 9-8 before the Pirates outscored San Marcos 3-1 the rest of the way.

“I knew they were a good team. We were fortunate to get a jump early,” SYHS head coach Jake Kalkowski said. “I’ll definitely take it and we couldn’t let off one bit. Any mistakes that we would make, they would beat us for it.”

Kalkowski realized immediately that the Channel League would be nothing like the Los Padres League.

“It was a challenge for sure,” Kalkowski said. “Going from the LPL to here, every game felt like a CIF game for us. We needed our best on every single one in order to do well.”

Despite the win in the designated third-place game, Kalkowski and the Pirates are facing a rather nebulous playoff future in the D5 realm. The final league standings were determined using regular season and tournament results.

“Even with the win, in terms of points, we’re still fourth. Now we’re hoping for an at-large bid,” Kalkowski said.

In the final game, Dos Pueblos went on to defeat Santa Barbara 18-8 to secure the Channel League Finals first-place showdown. 

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