Twice Atascadero dialed from long distance to get their shots into the net – and both times the Greyhounds girls water polo team were successful in touching the back of the net against Cabrillo.

And those goals – one of them being thrown from near the halfway spot of the pool – were two of the last three points for the red-hot Greyhounds, who edged the Conquistadores 8-6 on Wednesday at the Lompoc Aquatic Center.

The win placed Atascadero at 6-2 overall and completing its fifth straight win, while the outcome dropped Cabrillo to 2-4 overall – which is a rare slow start for the traditional Los Padres League and area powerhouse. Cabrillo head coach Scott Larson was honest about his team’s performance.

 “This one, I think, we kind of let get away from us,” Larson said. “We weren’t executing some of our basics. We gave them the ball too many times.”

Cabrillo got off to a fast start right away – scoring three early goals to take the 3-1 lead into the second quarter. Jillian Larson and Gretchen Von Protz were two of the Conqs who flung goals through the net in the early outset.

Atascadero endured some early misfires on its end. One attempt pounded against the top of the cross bar early in the second. But then, Emily Rinkenberger got the yellow ball to touch the net, cutting the lead to 3-2 at halftime.

The Greyhounds, 12-13 overall last year, started the second half with Brooke Story tacking on the tying goal near the six minute mark. That goal helped spark a 6-3 run to seal the road victory in Lompoc.

On Cabrillo’s end, the Conqs had lapses on both sides of the ball. Offensively, a lob to Von Protz saw the goal attempt hit the left cross bar. Then there were the long range points CHS surrendered, as Summer Tietje fired the long bomb from halfway into the net to close out the third quarter, giving the Greyhounds a 6-4 advantage. Larson said defensive positioning was off during that sequence.

The next lengthy scoring lob occurred in the middle of the fourth quarter, as Story scored again but this time for near the 7-0” area of the pool to place the lead at 7-5. Along with the mental breakdowns on defense, Larson noticed an inability to fire goals right away on CHS’s end – as players often waited for another passing opportunity other than going for the goal.

“It seemed to me that they were waiting to make that extra pass rather than make a move to get the shot going,” Larson said.

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The second-year head coach did give kudos to Atascadero’s goalie Tina Bell – who denied multiple scoring opportunities by leaping upward and denying points with both of her arms.

“They had a really good goalie,” Larson said. “She was getting in position and she was waiting for those shots to come. And weren’t putting it on the other side of her and making her work for those shots.”

As the Conqs try to re-establish some winning momentum, Larson says he still has an upbeat group of girls during the start of the year.

“Their morale is good. It is a long season,” Larson said. “This is kind of the first phase before we get to league. We’ve got time still.”

Cabrillo will now host Righetti on Dec. 14 at the Lompoc Aquatic Center for a 2:40 p.m. contest. 

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