A good start, a rocky middle section and a hold-your-breath finish.
That about summed up the Dos Pueblos boys water polo season opener on Thursday against Corona-Santiago in the first game of the Santa Barbara Invitational at the Elings Aquatic Center.
Ethan Parrish scored two goals to break an 8-8 tie in the fourth period and freshman Sammy Arshadi ripped a shot for an insurance goal to give the Chargers an 11-9 victory.
“It was about as expected,” DP coach Connor Levoff said of the opening game. “We showed our youth and inexperience a little bit, but were surprisingly strong in special teams, which I was not anticipating at all. They were O-fer in five-man, which is fantastic and we were 3 for 6, and that’s pretty darn good.”
The victory sets up a winner’s bracket game with Chris Segesman’s powerful Mater Dei team on Friday at noon at the Elings Aquatic Center. Segesman, a 2004 U.S. Olympian in water polo, is a DP alum.
In other action on the tournament’s first day, San Marcos fell behind early and lost to Dana Hills, 11-4, while Santa Barbara got a power-play goal from Dylan Fogg in overtime to beat Los Osos, 10-9.
Santa Barbara will play North Coast Section power Campolindo at noon at its pool on Friday. San Marcos takes on Vista at noon at its pool and plays again at 4 p.m. against San Clemente.
Dos Pueblos 11, Corona-Santiago 9
The Chargers started out strong, jumping out to a 4-1 advantage on goals from Jason Teng, Alex Reilly, Parrish and Arshadi on a penalty shot. Goalie Angus Goodner also made a big save.
But DP got sloppy on defense and Santiago capitalized, scoring five unanswered goals to take the lead, 6-4. Niko Photopoulos was responsible for three goals. He broke free inside and beat Goodner, converted a penalty shot and threw in a desperation shot from long distance.
“We need to do a better job protecting the strike zone and getting back and covering in transition a little better,” Levoff said of the defensive lapses. “That’s also a result of making errors, making turnovers, losing the ball when we have an advantage. As we settle in and get comfortable, that’s going to happen less and less.”
Arshadi, displaying powerful shot for a freshman, got DP back on the board with a goal from long distance to make it 6-5 at halftime.
"Sammy played really well for us and we’re going to be super reliant on him this year,” said Levoff, who also cited the play of freshman Rex Goodner.
Parrish fed Wyatt Meckelborg on a two-on-one break to knot the score at 6-6 and later threw a nifty pass across the goal mouth to Reilly, who finished it for a 7-6 lead in the third period.
“He kind of sparked our comeback as a distributor, which is what we’re looking for him to do,” Levoff said of the sophomore Parrish.
The teams traded goals and Goodner saved a shot as the clock expired, leaving the Chargers ahead 8-7 going into the final period.
Cameron Dryjowicz got free inside for Santiago and tied the score at 8-8 to start the fourth period.
Parrish then stepped up at the defensive end, stealing a ball and throwing long to Reilly, who drew a foul on his drive to the goal. Parrish bounced his penalty shot past Santiago goalie Riley Rosales to give DP the lead for good with 5:18 left. He made it 10-8 by finishing a pass from Matt Binckley.
The Chargers denied Santiago on a save by Goodner and a nice steal by Arshadi, who went high out of water to snare the ball. Arshadi then delivered on offense with a sizzling shot from a left angle with 2:42 to go.
The Chargers made things interesting in the final minute. They gave up a penalty shot and fouled again to put Santiago on a power play. The Sharks, however, missed wide on a shot, and Goodner saved another to clinch the game for DP.
“We started playing a little better in front of (Goodner) and he responded," Levoff said. "He made some really good blocks and played great in the second half. I don’t think we gave up many goals — three goals in the second half as opposed to four in the first quarter is pretty good.”
Santa Barbara 10, Los Osos 9, OT
Fogg’s game winner was his second goal of the game.
Chase Rasin led the Dons (1-0) with four goals and played great defense against the top scorer for Los Osos, said coach Mark Walsh.
Julian Bacon worked hard in the post, drawing six ejections and making three steals.
Dana Hills 11, San Marcos 4
The Royals had trouble stopping Kai Hanson, as he powered his way to six goals, including five in the first half, to help the Dolphins build an 8-2 lead.
“Tough first game of the tournament,” San Marcos coach Jeff Ashton said. “We struggled to get much going offensively and went 0 for 8 on our man-up opportunities. I thought we played hard and put out a good effort, but were just overmatched.
Trevor Ricci scored two goals and Sam Fuller and Kellen Radtkey each had one for the Royals (1-1). Goalie Jack Phreaner made 10 saves.