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Santa Barbara High Water Polo Falls Short Against Righetti, 10-8

By Barry Punzal (Noozhawk), 08/31/17, 12:30PM PDT

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Dylan Fogg unleashes a penalty shot for Santa Barbara’s second goal in the first period. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Missed opportunities on the power play in the fourth period ended up costing the Santa Barbara High’s boys water polo team in its season opener Thursday against visiting Righetti. 

The Dons failed to score on three man-advantage possessions in the final stanza and fell 10-8 in a battle of CIF-Southern Section Division 2 teams.

“I thought we battled hard,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said. “I don’t think it was for a lack of effort that we lost. They were maybe a little more skilled than we are right now and they have a few more weapons than we do right now. I thought the effort was great but the execution wasn’t there yet.”

The Dons are basically a new bunch after the graduation of stars Sawyer Rhodes (Stanford), Jack Rottman (Santa Clara) and Adam Gross (Claremont).

“We had pretty good summer with these guys, but we definitely have a long ways to go,” Walsh said of his new group.

Jacob Castillo, a returning starter, led Santa Barbara with three goals in less than three periods of action. He sat out the first period for disciplinary reasons and picked up two quick kickouts that hampered his effectiveness.

Castillo scored two goals of his team-high four goals in the second period, and the Dons rallied from a  5-2 deficit and tied the score 6-6 by halftime. 

“Once we put him in in the second quarter that’s when we made our big run,” Walsh said. “He made some good passes, got some goals, made some good steals. Then, unfortunately, he got two kick-outs really quick, so then he had to play a little more tentatively.

“We didn’t get to play with him long enough,” the coach added. “If we have him for all four quarters, we’re a much better team. That’s something we got to figure out now than later.”

Dylan Fogg scored three goals for the Dons.

Righetti got three goals each from Trey Watkins and Noah Wasylychyn and two from Lane Porter and Ryan Trenev.

Wasylychyn scored three goals during a 4-1 third period for Righetti to build a 10-7 lead. 

Santa Barbara’s goal came when Evan Blix blocked a pass with the side of his head and Castillo took the ball and scored with 23 seconds left in the period.

The Dons drew a couple of ejections early in the fourth period but couldn’t beat Righetti goalie Daxton Miller on the power plays.

Castillo finally got one past Miller on a lob shot to make it a 10-8 game with 3:02 left.

Santa Barbara earned another 6 on 5 opportunity but was denied by the Righetti defense.

“They put one of them away and all of a sudden instead of 10-7, it’s 10-8, 10-9,” Righetti coach Kyle Shaffer said. “It ended up 10-8, but we were able to hold that three-goal lead for quite awhile there.

“I was happy with the way our guys played,” he added. “We made some mistakes, and Santa Barbara took advantage of us for sure. But that’s what we’re here for is to learn from those things, and to get better at this point of the season. I thought it was a good game.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Brownell kept the Dons within striking distance by stopping a Righetti shot at the post with 1:50 to go.

Santa Barbara struggled to create a clear shot on its possession and wound up giving the ball back to the Warriors on a foul.

Righetti killed 30 seconds off the clock and Santa Barbara was unable to get off another shot.

Walsh said he is looking for take-charge players in his new group.

“Obviously, the seniors we lost were really really big, experienced players that did a lot for us the last couple of years. So, now other people have to come and step into those roles,” he said.