BWP: Royals shake off Dons in final quarter

San Marcos' Spencer Wood takes a shot as Dons defender Adam Gross moves to get his arm up. (Presidio Sports Photos)

San Marcos’ Spencer Wood takes a shot as Dons defender Adam Gross moves to get his arm up. (Presidio Sports Photos)


San Marcos’ first-place boys water polo team shook off an upset bid by Santa Barbara High on Thursday as the Royals held the Dons scoreless in the fourth quarter of an 8-4 Channel League decision.

A one-goal game going into the final period, San Marcos clamped down on defense to remain on top of the Channel League standings with the result. San Marcos is 4-0 while Santa Barbara falls to 2-2.

“It’s always worrying going in (to the 4th quarter) with a one-goal lead,” said San Marcos senior George Kuesis, who finished with one goal and three assists. “We definitely had to pull out all the stops and put all our energy into finishing the game out like that.”

It was a one-goal game until Ben Hauschild scored his third goal of the game with 3:17 on the clock. Hauschild then scored his fourth at 1:51 to extend the lead to 7-4.

“I’m always nervous in a league game, that’s for sure, whether we’re up by seven or one, or down by three, I’m always nervous,” said Royals head coach Jeff Ashton.

After scoring only two goals in the first half, San Marcos found its way in the second half.

“We were a little conservative in the first half and not putting away the best shots,” Kuesis said. “We were more worried about getting back on the counter attack but towards the end we found our openings which in the first half we definitely didn’t find.”

Two of the Royals three goals in the third quarter came on assists from Kuesis in transition.

“Kuesis is just bigger and faster than anybody we have. He’s a handful,” said Dons head coach Mark Walsh. “That was our No. 1 priority defensively was for him not to get counter attack goals but it’s easier said than done.”

The strategy worked in the first half as San Marcos was held to two goals.

“They’re really keyed in on George,” Ashton recalled. “Everything kind of runs through George even if he’s not getting a lot of goals and I thought they did a really good job of hammering George right at the beginning of every counter.”

Santa Barbara was better at forcing exclusions but the Dons were only able to convert goals on 2 of 9 man-up advantages. Santa Barbara had a 6-on-4 advantage on one possession in the fourth quarter but failed to score.

“We had some really good opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on and it went the other way for them,” said Santa Barbara’s leading scorer Sawyer Rhodes.

Royals head coach Jeff Ashton thought his team’s defense improved in the fourth quarter. San Marcos killed a penalty with a field block to maintain its slim 5-4 advantage. Chris Bartholomew nearly tied it for Santa Barbara on its next possession but goalie Jack Palmer smothered the shot attempt.

Rhodes led Santa Barbara’s offense with two goals and two assists. Henry Hepp led the team in drawn ejections with four. Dons head coach Mark Walsh said Justyn Barrios’ 10 saves was key to keeping it such a close game for most of the match.

“It’s a team that could beat us by 10 pretty easily so for us to be within one or two for most of the game was really, really good,” Walsh said.

San Marcos enters its bye week and doesn’t play again until October 28. Santa Barbara plays a non-league match on Saturday vs. Esperanza before hosting Dos Pueblos on Tuesday in the Dons’ next league match.



SM 1 1 3 4 – 8
SB 1 1 2 0 – 4

SM Goals – Hauschild 4, Wood 2, Morrison, Kuesis
SB Goals – Rhodes 2, Gross, Bartholomew

SM Saves – Palmer 12
SB Saves – Barrios 10

League Records – SM 4-0; SB 2-2.

Sawyer Rhodes - Santa Barbara High Water Polo

Santa Barbara High’s Sawyer Rhodes takes a shot during Thursday’s clash with San Marcos.