Santa Barbara sinks Sailors to make semis

Brendan Kerwin-McElroy, son of a Santa Barbara fire captain, scored two of the Dons’ three goals, including the automatic game-winner in the second sudden-death overtime period, to propel Santa Barbara past Newport Harbor 3-2 and into the CIF Division I boys water polo semifinals.

The Dons play Foothill, the No. 1 team in CIF, in Wednesday’s semifinal at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.

After a 0-0 defensive deadlock at halftime, Newport scored the first two goals of the game before Brandon Cowan scored the Dons’ first goal in the third quarter. Kerwin-McElroy equalized on a 6-on-5 at the end of the quarter and Santa Barbara goalie Hunter Ploch kept the Sailors off the board until Kerwin-McElroy’s game-winner.

Ploch recorded 15 saves and two steals in a performance that got high praise from coach Mark Walsh. Senior Ian Gamble drew three ejections and had four steals and Kerwin-McElroy added three steals and two field blocks to his huge goals.

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