The Santa Ynez Pirates stayed even with the San Marcos Royals for the first half of Tuesday’s Channel League boys water polo match at the Santa Ynez High pool.
But the Royals began to pull away in the third quarter on their way to a 17-9 victory.
“It took us a little bit to figure out how to play in the shallow end of their pool,” said San Marcos coach Peera Sukavivatanachai. “But once we found a way to deal with it, we were able to push forward.”
Trevor Ricci scored eight goals to lead the Royals’ offense. Jackson Hamilton netted three and Kellen Radtkey scored twice. Kyle Voulgaris, Richard Bliss, James Oriskovich and Tom Leggett each added one goal.
“Trevor is our team captain and our go-to-guy,” said Sukavivatanachai. “If defenses collapse on him, then he spreads the ball around. He helped Jackson get those three goals today. I was glad Jackson was able to step it up.”
Keller Haws led the Pirates with four goals. Henry Allen and Clayton Davidson each scored twice with Mateo Del Solar adding one goal.
“We’re very familiar with Keller,” said Peera Sukavivatanachai. “He plays a lot of club water polo in Santa Barbara. Our plan today was to keep him contained and not let him get off any easy shot. We held him to three goals — that’s a win for us.”
“They bottled up Keller. We expect that teams are going to go after Keller and Henry,” said Santa Ynez coach Jake Kalkowski. “We wanted to contain Oriskovich and Ricci. We did a good job on Oriskovich but we gave up way too many goals from the outside.”
The pace of play was furious throughout, both teams pushing the attack while playing pressure defense.
The Royals opened the scoring just under a minute into the game.
Showing a lot of patience, the San Marcos offense working the ball around the outside, back and forth around the horn until Hamilton worked himself free of a stifling Santa Ynez defense and fired a rocket past Pirates goalie Drake Clark at the 6:01 mark of the first quarter, scoring on the Royals’ first shot of the game.
A quick steal gave the ball right back to the Royals who got the ball to Ricci out front but his shot sailed over the net.
“We had way too many turnovers,” said Santa Ynez head coach Jake Kalkowski. “It’s difficult to win if they have the ball."
Back came the Pirates who found Davidson in a crowd about five meters out.
Davidson fired a bullet past San Marcos keeper Ken Webber to tie the score with 4:29 left in the first quarter.
Allen and Del Solar put the Pirates up 3-1 with goal at 3:11 and 2:50 respectively.
Clark blocked a Voulgaris shot but Ricci grabbed the rebound and sent it right back past Clark to cut the Pirates’ lead to one.
Radtkey then tied the game at 3-all, nailing the day’s only penalty shot with 1:05 left in the quarter.
The Royals took a 4-3 lead on Voulgaris’ goal with 36 seconds left in the quarter.
With time running down, Haws found Davidson alone in the middle and Davidson tied the score right before the quarter ended.
San Marcos picked up its intensity at the start of the second quarter.
The Royals needed three shot to score their next goal.
The sequence began with Ricci slinging a hard shot that Clark blocked; Oriskovich grabbed the rebound, turned a fired a shot that banged off the goal post; Ricci grabbed that rebound and lofted the ball over Clark’s head to break the tie with 4:10 left until halftime.
The defenses took over, with neither team managing a clean look at goal until Ricci stole the ball and broke away from the scrum, giving himself an open look at the Santa Ynez goal. Ricci’s shot went in, putting the Royals up 6-4 with 1:38 left in the half.
Haws then grabbed a rebound and scored with 1:06 left until the break but Hamilton was able to gather in a rebound off a Clark save and scored shortly before the buzzer sounded for a 7-5 lead.
The Royals began to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring the Pirates 4-1, for an 11-6 lead after three, and then closed with a big six-goal fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
San Marcos (11-11, 3-1 Channel) hosts Lompoc Thursday in both teams’ regular season finale.
Santa Ynez (15-8, 2-2) plays its final regular season game Thursday at Santa Barbara.
“We’re just got to shake it off, regroup and go after Santa Barbara,” said Kalkowski.
San Marcos 15, Santa Ynez 3
On the Pirates' Senior Day, singles players Claire Collison and Emmy Withrow were the only Santa Ynez players able to break through for points against Channel League leading San Marcos (12-1, 9-0).
"San Marcos is leading the league. Their team is very strong," said Santa Ynez coach Jennifer Rasmussen. "But out girls were having fun. They enjoy playing great competition. Today we saw a lot of great serves and great rallies from our girls. Playing against a strong opponent like San Marcos give our girls something to shoot for."
No. 1 Collison won two sets at 6-1, defeating the Royals No. 2 Fiona Kinsella and No. 3 Samantha Foster.
No. 2 Withrow also won her set against Forster 6-1.
Santa Ynez No. 2 Alexa Yacoub nearly broke through for a point against Forster, taking the set to a tiebreak before falling 6-7 (4-7).
San Marcos swept all nine doubles points.
Before the match, seniors Tristan Bunderson, Mckenna Olsen and Ella Quinney were honored.
Santa Ynez closes out the regular season Thursday at Lompoc.