Dons avenge Foothill loss, take second at Masters

Sweet revenge came quickly for the Santa Barbara High boys water polo team.

Just 10 days after losing to Foothill in the CIF Division I semifinals, the Dons downed the top-seeded Knights and finished second to No. 2 El Toro in the CIF Masters Meet at Newport Harbor Saturday.

The tournament consists of the top two CIF-SS squads from each division as well as three wild-card teams, which included Santa Barbara (26-9). The fifth-seeded Dons were the only non-Orange County team in the top 8. 

“I think when we played Foothill the first time we were really nervous, but in this tournament we had a lot more fun because we didn’t feel like we had the same expectations,” said Stanford-bound Ian Gamble.

Gamble had a huge game in the 9-5 decision over Foothill, tallying four goals with five steals as the Dons erased a 4-0 deficit in the second quarter with a 9-1 closing run. Hunter Ploch, who will join Gamble at Stanford next season, notched 13 saves in the cage while Brendan Kerwin-McElroy had a pair of goals with two steals.

Chris Dall earned a penalty in the second period to get the Dons their first goal, and the team went 3-for-3 on man-advantage situations in the second half.

“We got a pair of goals right before the end of the second quarter, and we started to put our shots away in the second half. I started shooting a lot better. It was pretty amazing for us to come back,” said Gamble.

Ploch added another 13 saves in the championship match against El Toro, but the Dons came up just short, 6-4. Brandon Cowan scored two goals for the Dons.

On Friday, Santa Barbara defeated JSerra 12-3 in the first round and Los Alamitos 9-6 in the second. Gamble and Jeff Churchman each had four goals in the opener, while Jason Masho, Jeff Churchman and Cowan had two apiece in the latter.

SANTA BARBARA 9, FOOTHILL 5

Santa Barbara…..0  2  3  4 — 9

Foothill…………..2  2  1  0 — 5

Goals—F: Pitkell 4, Berloop 1. SB: Gamble 4, Kerwin-McElroy 2, Cowan 1, Dall 1, Davis 1. Goalie saves — F: Lovero 8, SB: Ploch 13.

EL TORO 6, SANTA BARBARA 4

El Toro…………..3  1  1  1 — 6

Santa Barbara…0  2  1  1 — 4

Goals—F: ET: White 4, Johnson 1, Satcarro 1. SB: Cowan 2, Churchman 1, Peterson 1. Goalie saves — ET: O’Connel 13, SB: Ploch 13.

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