Dons move past Huntington, draw Newport

One school from Orange County down, and another one coming for the Dons boys water polo team after Santa Barbara ousted visiting wild-card team Huntington Beach 14-3 in the opening round of the CIF Division-I playoffs on Wednesday.

“I thought we passed really well today,” said coach Mark Walsh, who also had to commend his defense. “There were a lot of extra passes, guys looking for the next open guy and I think that will help us out for the next round.”

The No. 4 Dons (22-7) will now have to travel to play No. 5 Newport Harbor (21-7) on Friday in the round of eight, facing a team that Walsh says has been playing extremely well of late. The OC-connection is no coincidence with Santa Barbara being the only team in the top six of the division not from the county.Brendan Kerwin-McElroy led the Dons with three goals. Ian Gamble, Chris Dall, Jason Masho and Nick Sklar all scored a pair each in a game that was never in doubt. Santa Barbara enjoyed an 8-1 halftime advantage.

“I like having the close ones a little better,” admitted Kerwin-McElroy, who had a big second half with his three goals and a big blocked shot in the fourth quarter. “It makes things exciting at the end but it’s the first round and those games are going to come. ”

Newport Harbor defeated University 17-6 in its home pool on Wednesday and will get another home game thanks to a coinflip conducted last weekend. Now the Dons must make the trip south on Friday.

“It’s going to be an extremely tough game,” warned Walsh. “If they play well, they’re as good as anyone in the country.

“Hopefully they’re not playing that well against us.”

SANTA BARBARA 14, HUNTINGTON BEACH 3

Huntington Beach   0  1  2  0  – 3

Santa Barbara         5  3  3  3  – 14

Goal Scorers – HB: Lovat 2, McLaughlin. SB: Kerwin-McElroy 3, Gamble 2, Sklar 2, Dall 2, Masho, Peterson, Baker, Fesembeck, P. Davis

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