One of the top challenges in the Channel League for Cabrillo boys water polo finally arrived in the form of San Marcos on Tuesday at the Lompoc Aquatic Center.

The Royals, a traditional power in the Santa Barbara region, used a huge third quarter and early fourth to build an eight-goal lead en route to their 12-6 victory.

While both the Royals and Conquistadores have developed stout boys water polo programs backed by their numerous league championships, Tuesday’s contest was the first for both teams as new league rivals.

And for CHS head coach Jeff Dacus, he knew that his team would receive a solid obstacle in the form of San Marcos.

“We’ve known for a long time (how good they are),” Dacus said after the game. “We’ve seen them throughout the years that they’re a powerhouse down in Santa Barbara.”

At halftime, CHS found itself down 6-3. But then the Royals came out firing on all cylinders at the pool nestled between the town’s YMCA and Lompoc High School.

Daniel Goldberg struck first in the third with his goal that made it 7-3. Then, James Orisleawich stole the ball and fired the immediate shot through the net – extending the lead to 9-3.

Trevor Rice added the next goal for San Marcos at 3:13 of the third. And Tom Leggett – with his left hand during the early part of the fourth quarter – helped complete the run with his goal.

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Yet, despite the run by the Royals during the early part of the second half, Dacus said he was pleased with how goalkeeper Chase Fichtner still made the Royals work for their goals.

“I’m glad their shots were bar-in and corner-bar in, plus low corner-bar in – so they weren’t getting easy shots,” Dacus said. “Our goalie was trying to take care of business as best he can be.”

Cabrillo (11-6, 1-2 in the Channel League) found itself down 2-0 early in the first until Chris Campos got the Conqs on the board. The right hander flung his points in with 10.2 seconds left in the first that cut the lead to 2-1.

Luke Benchek tacked on the next goal for CHS in the second quarter to draw within 3-2. Rice would add his first goal of the day for the Royals after Benchek’s points, but Garrett Stanton immediately responded with his toss to the net that made it 4-3 in favor of the Royals.

Stanton would end the CHS scoring slump late in the fourth quarter with his second goal of the day. Campos and Josh Rowe also scored late for Cabrillo.

Overall, Dacus saw both a solid test in the Royals and some scoring lapses on the Conqs’ end during the first of what will likely be many future Channel League encounters with the Royals.

“A little bit of both,” Dacus said. “They’re a very good team. It’s not easy to score on them and we were trying to prevent goals, which we weren’t too successful with during that third quarter. They were getting some shots away.”

Cabrillo returns to the Lompoc Aquatic Center to face former Los Padres League rival and new Channel League member Santa Ynez this Thursday at 2:40 p.m.

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