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San Luis Obispo pulls away in fourth, stuns Cabrillo boys water polo

By Lorenzo J. Reyna (Santa Maria Times), 09/07/17, 1:00PM PDT

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For the first three quarters inside the Lompoc Aquatic Center, there were seven lead changes between San Luis Obispo and Cabrillo.

But the eighth lead change sparked the fourth quarter for the visiting Tigers, as they pulled out the 14-10 road win against the Conquistadores in boys water polo action on Thursday afternoon by scoring the last five of six goals.

The back-and-forth commenced at the 6:21 mark of the first quarter, as Josh Rowe of Cabrillo struck first with his goal. Then, Riley Truschke countered with his rifle shot down the middle, tying it at 1-1.

Following SLO’s first goal, Luke Benchek of CHS scored on a fast break opportunity – finding himself ahead of the Tiger defenders, then taking the long pass and firing the yellow ball through the net to get CHS back in the lead at 2-1.

But SLO wasn’t going to check out early, as Kiran Heidler tied it with his goal, followed by Mark Ebstoesser’s goal that gave the Tigers their first lead.

After being knotted up at 9-9 entering the fourth, Tigers head coach Brian Traverso says his team started to play smarter and adjusted to being inside an indoor pool – elements that the Tiger head coach says they haven’t been used to.

“I think it was just smarter play. We came out kind of flat with bad passing plus adjusting to an indoor pool,” Traverso said. “It was our first time in an indoor pool this year, so we had to adjust to the heat a little bit. It was draining us and we had some of our better players in foul trouble early on. But we were able to get them back in the fourth.”

Ebstoesser was responsible for igniting the late fourth quarter charge, scoring his points near the six minute mark. Then, the Tigers would go on and outscore the Conqs 4-1 the rest of the way to knock off the traditional Los Padres League power.

Cabrillo was coming off the heels of a tough 19-11 loss to Arroyo Grande at home on Wednesday. Still, CHS head coach Jeff Dacus said fatigue and mental errors on defense were two deciding factors in the end.

“We gave up some easy shots – those looper shots that weren’t that spectacular that just went in. I told the guys ‘You can stop all the hard ones, but you’ve got to stop the easy ones too. You can’t let them roll out and toss it,’” Dacus said. “I don’t know if fatigue was a factor. Or if we played a tough game yesterday and it carried over. There are all kinds of excuses but they need to figure it out.”

Rowe led the scoring for CHS with six goals. Garrett Stanton and Isaac Thomas each had two goals apiece for the Conqs. Along with fighting off fatigue, Dacus hopes his group can make some improvements with passing.

“Fine tuning wise, it’s just finding the open man as soon as you get the ball,” Dacus said. “We had a bunch of ball under calls too. We have to get our hands on top of the ball. There are little things we can fix.”

Cabrillo will now head to the Pioneer Valley tournament beginning tomorrow and ending Saturday.