The first three minutes of the Nipomo-Cabrillo boys water polo contest saw a competitive Titans bunch – as Nipomo had things tied up at two from the early outset.
But then the Conquistadores dominated the pool with their 15-2 run – culminating in a 17-4 rout in Wednesday's Los Padres League contest held at the Lompoc Aquatic Center.
And it was the Conqs’ usual scoring machines in the pool igniting CHS: Josh Rowe, Garrett Stanton, Olat Luna and Isaac Thomas. The quartet accounted for 14 of the 17 goals for Cabrillo.
While those numbers lit up the scoreboard inside the LAC, Cabrillo head coach Jeff Dacus said he was most impressed with the unselfish play from the scoring leaders.
“I was happy with the fact that those guys were looking and finding each other on passes, instead of not being selfish on the shooting,” Dacus said. “They’re doing a good job with countering, but they were also doing a good job of finding the open man and making the assists.”
Stanton fired the first goal from near the half way point of the pool. Caleb Ray of Nipomo responded with his quick goal to tie it 1-1. Stanton then turned into a pass-first guy on the next scoring possession – lobbing his pass to Rowe who proceeded to fling the ball into the net, making it 2-1. Blake Hudson then tied things up for NHS with his goal.
But then CHS (10-7, 3-1 in the LPL) started creating quick scoring opportunities with a defense that forced multiple turnovers. Luna and Stanton helped lead the charge from the middle of the pool – while goalie Chase Fichtner maintained his ground inside the net for the next nine minutes, as CHS held the Titans to just one goal.
Luna tacked on two more goals to help lift the lead to 7-3. Thomas then scored the first of his six goals that made it 8-3. Rowe and Thomas would close the second quarter by combining for the next four goals that made it 12-3 at halftime.
Cabrillo also opened the game with four of its starters on the bench, Dacus said.
“Four of our normal starters were sitting for a quarter. They missed practice for whatever reason. It’s no big deal but they can’t miss practice. Once they got back in, they were hungry and they were going for it,” Dacus said.
The third quarter saw Luna add two more goals, including one on a tip-in to the net that made it 15-4. Thomas would score twice in the fourth while reserve Luke Benchek added a late goal in the fourth.
The victory kept the Conqs behind league leader Santa Ynez in the race for the LPL title. Along with keeping up with the Pirates, Dacus is also trying to develop his reserves for the rest of the season.
“They still make some small mistakes, but we’re getting rid of those as the season progresses,” Dacus said of his backups. “Hopefully as the season ends, they’re at a point where they’re far better than where they started – and that’s all I can ask. We’ll just keep giving them progress.”
Cabrillo will now travel to the Oxnard Tournament that’s set for Friday and Saturday at Oxnard High.