GWP: Dons win battle of No. 1 teams for title at So Cal Championships

Santa Barbara High’s girls water polo team is firing on all cylinders as it heads toward the postseason.

The Dons put another checkmark on their list of season accomplishments on Saturday by winning the Southern California Championship in Irvine. They defeated top-seeded Foothill in the final, 5-4.


The tournament title was Santa Barbara’s first since 2004, when Miranda Nichols and future U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kami Craig were playing for the Dons.

It’s the second straight tourney title for the Dons, who were seeded second at the So Cal Championships. Two weeks ago they won their Tournament of Champions, beating Foothill in the semifinals and Newport Harbor in the final.

Saturday’s results were the reverse. They beat Newport Harbor in the semfinals, 5-3.

The two wins extend Santa Barbara’s winning streak to 16 in a row. The Dons are 21-4 on the season and share the No. 1 ranking in CIF Division 1 with Foothill, the last team to beat them in the final of the Holiday Cup in early December.

Rocio Fesmebeck scored three goals and had five steals in the final, and Sophie Trabucco and Kelsey O’Brien each scored one goal.

Goalie Madeline Trabucco was spectacular, stopping 15 Foothill shots. She had 14 saves in the semifinal win over Newport Harbor. Madeline was named the Outstanding Goalie of the tournament.

“There’s definitely a big target on our backs and our goal was to just win this tournament and show people that we are good,” Madeline Trabucco told the Orange County Register.

Sophie Trabucco and O’Brien were selected to the all-tournament team.

Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh credited Fesembeck for stepping up and delivering.

“Kelsey and Sophie get so much attention, so we need someone to make shots for us. Today was her day,” said Walsh.

Fesembeck scored two of her goals in the final on 6-on-5 situations.

She also scored three goals in the semifinals, and Sophie Trabucco and O’Brien each had one.

Walsh said the team is putting it all together at the right time.

“Everyone is doing their role and playing their parts. It’s been really fun,” he said.

“They’re the team to beat,” Foothill coach Jeff Colton told the Orange County Register.

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