The Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros applied intense pressure on both sides of the ball, swimming away with a 16-5 victory over the Hancock College Bulldogs Wednesday afternoon in a Western State Conference women's water polo match at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center in Santa Maria.
The Vaqueros’ offense moved the ball crisply down the pool each time it gained possession.
On the other side of the ball, Santa Barbara (21-3, 5-0 WSC) used a relentless, in-your-face defense to keep Hancock from breaking free for clean shots on goal.
“We try to press really hard, it’s something we really do well and when it works, we’re really good,” said Santa Barbara head coach Chuckie Roth. “But I thought Hancock did a good job. Their coach always does a good job and had her team prepared for us.”
Seven different Vaqueros scored; Emma Fraser led the way with four goals; Halie Johnson, Sam Guerino and Meagan McKillican added three apiece with Cabrillo High graduate Tori Bray, Natalie Beck and Lily Riley each adding single goals.
For Hancock (10-14, 1-4 WSC), Santa Ynez grad Alicia Reyes had three goals with Nipomo’s Ambria Eidson and Lompoc’s Makena Blanco each netting one.
The Bulldogs had their chances, forcing SBCC goal keeper Nicole Poulos to make seven difficult saves.
Hancock’s keeper, Righetti High grad Shay McMann had four saves.
“Shay had a great game.” said Hancock head coach and reigning conference Coach of the Year Dominique Miller. “She made some great saves. She’s always a pillar of our defense.”
Showing that you don’t always have to rocket the ball into the net, the Vaqueros scored five of their goals on soft floaters over McMann’s head.
“We can learn from this,” said Miller. “I’m proud that our team played hard the entire game. We don’t focus on the score. Each quarter starts 0-0 and is a new game for us so we work hard to improve every quarter of every game.”
The Vaqueros were up 5-0 after the first quarter and 7-0 before the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter.
Hancock actually outscored Santa Barbara 3-1 through the end of the half but still trailed 8-3.
Hancock would get no closer.
After a couple minutes of back and forth action, the Vaqueros broke through for the game’s first goal at the 6-minute mark of the 8-minute first quarter.
Johnson got off a shot from the right side that bounced off the left goal post right into the hands of Bray who quickly shot the ball past McMann.
After a mid-pool steal, the Vaqueros got the ball to Fraser who faked a shot, got McMann to commit and then floated the ball over McMann for a 2-0 lead at the 5:30 mark.
Poulos then made a save on Hancock’s Maddison Stangl (Lompoc High), got the ball to McKillican who immediately sent the ball to Fraser who took the shot and scored for a 3-0 lead with 2:18 left in the first.
Johnson then stole the ball, passed to McKillican who passed back to Johnson who caught McMann out of position and scored with 1:43 left in the quarter.
After another steal, Johnson swam down the pool on a breakaway and scored over McMann’s head to make it 5-0 with 1:16 left in the first.
Johnson scored on another breakaway less than a minute into the second quarter and Fraser put a floater over McMann’s head at the 5:24 mark for a 7-0 lead.
Reyes then scored from 2-meters out to get Hancock on the board at 4:49 of the second.
Reyes scored again with 1:43 left in the half to cut Santa Barbara’s lead to 7-2.
Guerino scored the Vaqueros eighth goal on another floater at the 1-minute mark before Reyes scored her third goal 20-seconds later.
“Alicia’s not traditionally our top scorer and she did a great job scoring three times today,” said Miller. “She ran our offense successfully, found some open pockets and took some great shots.”
But by then, a Bulldogs’ win was out of reach.
“Forget the wins and losses,” said Roth. “Dominique is building a good program but more importantly, she’s building great people. That’s out most important job — to help all these kids make a better life for themselves.”
The Bulldogs have a busy weekend coming up. Playing in the Santa Barbara Halloween Tournament, they’ll face Southwestern on Friday at 3 p.m. at Santa Barbara High School, Cerritos on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Santa Barbara High and L.A. Pierce on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at San Marcos High.
PAC 8 League Tournament
Every Arroyo Grande singles player and doubles team moved through into the semifinals.
"That's the first time we've ever done that," said veteran Arroyo Grande coach Lori Hollister. The Eagles, multi-defending PAC 8 League champions, successfully defended their league title with a 14-0 2017 league campaign.
The league tournament is taking place at Paso Robles High School.
Arroyo Grande's Delanie Dunkle, the top seed, rolled into the singles semis at the league tournament. She will face Lauren Ramirez of San Luis Obispo.
Arroyo Grande teammates Erika Egg and Maddy Ferreros will play each other in the other singles semi.
The top-seeded Arroyo Grande tandem of Peyton Dunkle (Delanie's sister) and Emma Mostajo will go against fourth-seeded teammates Lily Bickmore and Bella Waterman in one doubles semifinal. Bickmore and Waterman rallied for a three-set win to get to the semis.
Arroyo Grande seniors Casey Lieberman and Christina Atherton will play an Atascadero tandem in the other semifinal.
Semis are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Thursday, with finals taking place after lunch. Finalists are guaranteed spots in the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament. Third-place finishers will be alternates.