BWP: Royals come up short in playoff opener

There were spurts during Thursday’s CIF Division 2 first-round match when the San Marcos boys water polo team played like the team that won a share of the Channel League title.

Unfortunately for the Royals, they couldn’t put together enough of those spurts to advance to the next round. San Clemente pulled off the playoff victory, 13-12, at the San Marcos pool.

“It was bummer to see it end like that,” San Marcos coach Jeff Ashton said. “For the seniors, I thought we could make a good (playoff) run this season.”

It was a tight game from the start. The scored was tied 3-3 after the first period, San Clemente led 5-4 at halftime and the teams were deadlocked 9-9 after three periods.

Kameron Bebb scored on an outside shot to tie the score at 11 with 3:29 left in the fourth period.

San Clemente responded with goal from Chase Hamming to retake the lead at 12-11 with 3:07 to go.

San Marcos got the ball inside on its next possession but it couldn’t get off a shot. Goalie Jack Palmer blocked a shot by San Clemente but the Royals turned the ball over. The Tritons made them pay for the mistake, as Kai Duty scored to give his team a two-goal lead, 13-11, with 1:47 left.

“We got a surprise goal from No. 2,” said San Clemente coach Marc Parker. “He’s scored only 4 or 6 goals this season. “That was a huge shot there at the end.”

San Marcos came back and got goal from Ben Hauschild off a feed from Bebb with 1:32 to go. Spencer Wood then made a terrific steal from behind a San Clemente player. The Royals got the ball to Bebb and he fired a shot that was blocked by Tritons’ goalie Adam Sander.

Wood stole the ball again for the Royals, giving them another chance at a tying goal. They got the ball inside to Jesse Morrison, but several Triton players converged him and Chase Hamming made the steal to seal the win.

“Chase has been the catalyst of our defense,” said Parker. “That was a huge switch there for him to jump on it and steal the ball.”

Chase Hamming was one of three triplet brothers playing for San Clemente (16-12). Colton Hamming led his team with five goals and Chase added four.

“That’s probably the biggest game of his senior year,” Parker said of Colton Hamming.

For San Marcos, the game wasn’t its best performance, Ashton said. “There was bad passing and guys were passing up on shots that in most games they would take,” he said. “Maybe it was nerves.”

The Royals also struggled on the power play. They scored on just three of 12 man-up situations.

“We did a good job drawing ejections; that’s what we’ve been good at all year. That was probably our worst 6-on-5 day of the season,” said Ashton.

Ashton said the game should be a good learning experience for his young squad, many of whom are sophomores and playing in their first CIF playoff game. He told the players not to define themselves by the game.

“We didn’t play great,” he said. “They played good and we played OK at times but we didn’t play our best, that’s for sure.”

Morrison and Wood, both sophomores, each scored three goals, and seniors Bebb and Hauschild tallied two goals apiece to lead the San Marcos scoring.

San Marcos finishes the season at 19-10.