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Dons bounced from playoffs in heartbreaking overtime loss

The Santa Barbara High boys soccer team’s hopes of defending its CIF SoCal Regional title in Division II ended with a 1-0 overtime loss to Royal on Thursday.

The Dons finished third in the Channel League and traveled to Simi Valley to take on Royal, the Marmonte league champions, in the first round of the playoffs.

The two teams were evenly matched and traded shots throughout the games without any success.

“It was a pretty tight game,” Santa Barbara head coach Todd Heil said. “I think we definitely had the better of the opportunities in the first half.”

The Dons were unable to control the tempo as well in the second half, allowing Royal to build momentum.

Regulation time ended in a 0-0 tie, and the game went into sudden death overtime.

Just five minutes into the extra period, Royal was able to get a good look at goal from just outside the 18-yard box and hit the back of the net to end the game.

Despite having a young team, the Dons had to deal with high expectations from last year’s historic season.

“They’re a little distraught, and understandably so,” Heil said about his team’s reaction to the first-round exit.

However, seven juniors played important roles for Santa Barbara and will all return next season, giving the team plenty to look forward to.

This year’s team finished with a 15-7-4 record and pleased their coach with constant effort throughout the season.

“I’m incredibly proud of the boys [and] the way they fought through a lot of adversity in trying to find our own identity,” Heil said.