BWP: Royals take program to new level with CIF win

Emerson Pizzinat remembered the first time he went to the CIF playoffs with the San Marcos water polo team. It wasn’t pretty as the Royals were pounded by San Clemente during Pizzinat’s sophomore year.

“It was a whole other level of water polo,” the senior recalled.

San Marcos showed this season that it’s raised its level of play. On Thursday, Pizzinat scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and Shane Hauschild poured in seven goals as the Royals defeated visiting Vista Murrieta, 11-7, in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs.

The playoff win was the first for coach Jeff Ashton and the first for the core group of seniors: Pizzinat, Shane Hauschild, Kameron Bebb and Spencer Kemp.

“I feel like we’ve come a long way on the back of these seniors,” said Ashton. “For them to get that win is pretty special.”

Said Pizzinat: “For this group of four players who have moved up together, winning a CIF game and moving on to the second round is great.”

The Royals advance to play top-seeded and defending CiF champion Agoura on the road Saturday.

San Marcos didn’t know much about Vista Murrieta coming into the first-round game. It learned right away that Brandt Restad and Tommy Lotero were dangerous players. The left-handed Reitad and Lotero had lethal shots from the perimeter, and their scoring sparked the Eagles to a 6-4 halftime lead.

“We didn’t know a lot about them coming in, so we had to feel them out in the first quarter, and No. 8 (Restad) and No. 9 (Lotero), those guys were good players,” said Ashton. “Once we realized what they were doing, we shut that down. And, No. 8 fouled out in the third quarter.”

Pizzinat drew the third ejection on Restad with 2:35 to go in the period, knocking out the Broncos’ top scorer and leader for the rest of the game. He had scored three goals.

“That was the real turning point of the game,” Ashton said. “I feel like we were doing better things defensively. Shane got him ejected twice and Emerson got him kicked out of the game. And that really changed the game.”

Hauschild beat the Broncos’ goalie on a big skip shot to make it 6-5 and tied the score with an outside shot to the far corner of the cage.

San Marcos goalie Jack Palmer made a save on Tommy Lotero and the Royals responded with a beautiful cross-pool feed from Ben Hauschild to Pizzinat to put the Royals ahead 7-6.

Pizzinat scored again off a pass from Shane Hauschild to start the fourth quarter.

The Royals were solid defensively in front of Palmer, blocking several shots and holding the Broncos to just one goal in the second half.

“We did a great job of field blocking in the second half,” Ashton said. “It won’t show in the scorebook, but Ben Hauschild had 6 or 7 field blocks. That’s huge defensively.”

Miles Cole fought off a defender and scored inside and Hauschild came back for another goal to make it 10-6 with 4:16 left in the game.

Hauschild finished the scoring for the Royals on a nice combination play with Kemp and George Kuesis.