GWP: Dons take out Saddleback in playoff opener

The seniors on the Santa Barbara High girls water polo team cleaned up the pool for the last time on Wednesday. And they did it with smiles on their faces.

The seniors went out winners in their final home game of their high school careers, as the Dons breezed past Saddleback, 8-1, in a CIF Division 1 first-round playoff game.

Santa Barbara, which played several reserves and JV players, scored 12 seconds into the game, added a second goal 29 seconds later and never looked back.

“We’d seen some of the scores, so we knew they weren’t as strong as some of the opponents we’d played this year,” Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said. “It’s kind of what we thought it would be.”

Lauren Duggan and Mackenzie Fell each had two goals to lead the Dons. Kai McGeoy, Erin McGeoy, Jessee Ransone and Kristina Garcia accounted for the other goals.

The outstanding goalkeeping of Saddleback’s Valerie Acosta kept the Dons from reaching double figures in goals. Acosta stopped 13 shots, including two 5-meter penalty shots.

Santa Barbara’s first goal came on a penalty shot as the Dons quickly got the ball inside to Ransone, who was fouled. Ransone converted on the penalty shot. Johanna Laraway fed Kai McGeoy for the second goal. Duggan tallied her first goal to give the Dons a 3-0 lead with 3:55 left in the first quarter.

A nice feed from Jessie Brummett to Kai McGeoy resulted in another foul in the 5-meter area. Fell beat Acosta on the free shot for the only goal of the second period.

Saddleback couldn’t muster much of an offense against a tight-marking Santa Barbara defense. The Roadrunners avoided the shutout when Sierra Siebert scored with 2:03 left in the game.

Santa Barbara advances to a quarterfinal matchup with Corona del Mar on Saturday on the road. The Dons lost an 8-5 decision to the Sea Queens in their only meeting this season.

“We played them once, so we know what to expect,” Walsh said.