With sole possession of first place in the Los Padres League hanging in the balance, Cabrillo girls water polo started out fast against Santa Ynez, then helped put the game away in the third quarter with three quick fire goals in a span of two minutes and 30 seconds in the 13-7 road victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.
Cabrillo freshman varsity player Mary Rhodes started things out by firing two goals — her first through a penalty shot and another from the left hand corner. Then right after halftime, Delaney Scott flung back-to-back goals and Jillian Larson added another to inflate the lead to 7-2 for the Conquistadores (14-5, 4-0 LPL).
And Rhodes claimed she had some early nerves in this first place battle.
“Oh God, it (Santa Ynez) is the toughest team in our league. I was very nervous and threw up this morning,” Rhodes said. “I just had no confidence in myself. I knew they were going to be hard. They put up a great fight but I believe we pulled away in that third quarter.”
The Pirates’ Teghan Miller trimmed the Cabrillo lead to 7-3 with her goal that broke the 3-0 run. But then, Callie Scott drew a foul, had her opportunity to shoot a penalty shot and scored, putting CHS ahead 8-3.
Jacquelyn Mora-Garcia then got involved in the Cabrillo scoring act with her goal near the one minute mark, while Delaney Scott closed out the strong third quarter for CHS with her late goal, giving the Conqs a 10-4 advantage.
The Pirates got a late production charge from Layna King and Shannon Connolly, as the duo cut the lead to 10-6 with their goals. But then Gretchen Von Protz floated the yellow ball over goal keeper Sydney Hill to help end Santa Ynez’s final gallop.
Maddison Stangl and Delaney Scott added two more goals for CHS before Annie Askert scored one last time for the Pirates (12-9, 3-1 LPL) with 15 seconds left.
For CHS interim head coach Scot Larsen, he called this first place battle “one of the closest games” the Conqs have played this season.
“It was a whole different environment to play in. But we worked really well,” Larsen said. “Our press defense worked really good, the girls were communicating and we got some fast breaks going, which made the difference in our game.
“When they started getting close, we heated up and got a couple of quick goals. It settled us down and kept us in control.”
Larsen, who took over as the leader of the girls varsity program in January, coached in his first marquee league game with the Conqs.
“They (Santa Ynez) were a good challenge,” Larsen said. “They kept it close in the first half. We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, but we made some adjustments and stayed in control of the game.”
Four Conqs scored multiple goals on the day — Delaney Scott with four, Rhodes with two, Larson with two and Callie Scott also had two.
For the Pirates, Alicia Reyes got the ball to touch the back of the net twice with two goals, while Connolly tied for the team lead with her two scores.
Rhodes said she believed some tough practices with Larsen emerged as the contributing factor for Cabrillo’s third quarter spurt.
“In the past, we’ve had trouble in the second half. But I think in all of the practices with us going harder and harder there really showed in the third quarter,” Rhodes said. “Our coach told us ‘It is the third quarter, make it or break it.’ And we really pushed it in the third. It was goal after goal.”