Hendrix, Dons stay ahead of Royals

The balance of power in local girls water polo has undeniably shifted out to Dos Pueblos over the past two years, but it’s left a nice crosstown matchup between Santa Barbara and San Marcos in its wake.

Charlotte Hendrix scored a trio of goal for the host Dons Tuesday as they defeated the visiting Royals 8-4 in a match-up of sophomore-laden teams.

“We’re only averaging five goals per game, so this was a huge offensive output for us. It was our second highest total of the year,” said Santa Barbara head coach Mark Walsh, who is in different waters now than he has been in the past, when his team was a CIF dynasty filled with Division I recruits and even future Olympians.The Dons scored seven of those goals in the first half to take a 7-3 lead at the break, and both offenses grinded to a halt in the final two quarters. Santa Barbara missed two penalty shots in the second half.

San Marcos was led by junior Jade Wentz-Fitzgerald, who scored a pair of goals.

I though Jade was dominant offensively and did a good job on Samantha King, who is arguably their best player,” said Royals coach Brian Roth. “Now we just need some other girls to move into scoring positions to close that 4-goal gap.”

Walsh doesn’t seem bothered much by the fact that the Dons are no longer the clear-cut best team out of the three local Channel League schools.

“Things have changed a lot, you know. We used to be the premier team in town and were just a step above everybody for a long time… Now it’s more like Santa Barbara and DP are getting equal amount of talent from the club level and we all have to rely a lot on our younger kids,” said Walsh. “I’m excited about it. I like our group a lot.”

The Dons converted two of their three 6-on-5 advantages while San Marcos went 1-for-2. Chloe Brooks racked up 13 saves for Santa Barbara, and Makenzy Fowler had four steals to go along with her goal. Autumn Lovett — whome Roth was also impressed with — had six saves in goal for the Royals.

The Dons (4-7) host Buena on Wednesday while the Royals (6-4) face mighty DP at the Elings Aquatic Center on Thursday.

SANTA BARBARA 8, SAN MARCOS 4

Goals — SM: Fitzgerald 2, Chardon 1, Kirker 1. SB: Hendrix 3, Cusimano 1, Ingalls 1, Fowler 1, Gonzales 2. Goalie saves — SM: Lovett 6, SB: Brooks 10.

Team records — SM 6-4, SB 4-7.

(Photos by Blake Dorfman/PresidioPics. To order prints, e-mail photos@presidiosports.com)