Winners of the Channel League for five straight seasons, the Santa Barbara High boys soccer team’s journey to a CIF title will begin Wednesday at 5 p.m. when it takes on Harvard-Westlake in the first round of the CIF-SS Div. 1 tournament.
“It’s Division 1 and there is no such thing as an easy playoff draw, which is evident by our draw in a Harvard-Westlake team that is good and finished No. 2 in their league,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said.
The fifth-seeded Dons (19-1-4, 8-0-2) only loss this season came to No. 1 San Clemente at the South Torrance tournament.
Their opponents, Harvard Westlake, is the No. 2 team out of the Mission League and has an overall record of 13-5-4.
Heil said he believes Santa Barbara is peaking at the right time, however, evident by its four straight wins to close out the regular season.
“I love our team’s mentality right now of next game up, and we do have quite a few returners that remember the early playoff exits and want to make sure that does not happen again,” Heil said.
Juan Carlos Torres and Sean Williams are currently nursing injuries, but Heil expects them to play Wednesday.
In Div. 2, two Channel League teams earned bids to the postseason.
Dos Pueblos High, which finished in third place in the Channel League and with a 13-6-3 overall record, was seeded third in Div. 2 and will face Valencia of Placentia, who finished the season 11-7-5 and second place in the Empire League.
San Marcos received an at-large bid despite finishing in the bottom half of the Channel League table. The Royals (9-7-7) will face Channel Islands (17-3-3, No. 1 Pacific View).
In Div. 4, Santa Ynez (13-5-2), the Channel League runner up, will host Santa Monica (6-6-5).
In Div. 6, undefeated Cate (10-0-1), Tri-Valley League champion, will host the winner of Monday’s Campbell Hall at Thacher wild-card game on Wednesday afternoon.
Joining Cate is undefeated Dunn (15-0-0) who is the fourth seed. It will face the winner of Flintridge Prep and El Monte. All first-round games are on Wednesday.
In wild card action, Bishop Diego, which resides in Div. 6, will travel and face Crossroads High on Monday at 4 p.m.
The Cardinals (7-3-2) advanced to the Div. 7 semifinals last year and would face Verbum Dei on Wednesday should they win their wild-card game.
The Dos Pueblos High girls soccer team will host Oak Park on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the first round of the CIF-SS Div. 3 tournament.
The Chargers (8-3-5, 6-1-3), won a share of the Channel League crown and will play an Oak Park team that finished third in its league but holds an overall mark of 14-6-1.
Also in Div. 3, Santa Barbara High will be taking on Westlake (6-6-4) in a wild-card game on Tuesday.
The Dons (8-7-6), who finished third in the Channel League, will host the wild card match at San Marcos High with the start time to be announced. If they win, they would face top-seeded Flintridge Prep, who has lost just one game and sits at 21-1-1, on the road on Thursday.
In Div. 4, Lompoc (10-1-6), which won a share of the Channel League title, will host La Quinta on Thursday.
Cate (7-4-2), which finished third in the Tri-Valley League, will travel to Malibu (6-10-2) for a Division 6 wild-card game on Tuesday.
The winner will play at Ramona Convent (14-4-4) on Thursday.
Finally, in Division 7, Dunn (6-3-0), which won the Condor League, will host Laguna Blanca (4-8-1) on Thursday.
GIRLS WATER POLO
The San Marcos High girls water polo team will begin its quest toward a CIF-SS Div. 1 title Thursday when it hosts Mater Dei at Dos Pueblos’ Elings Aquatic Center at 5 p.m. The Royals (20-5) earned the No. 3 seed in Div. 1.
The top seed in Div. 1, an eight-team bracket, is Laguna Beach (26-1) which has beaten San Marcos three times this season. Santa Ana-Foothill and Newport Harbor are the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, respectively.
Thursday’s winners advance to the semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos, who finished second and third in the Channel League, respectively, are in the Div. 2 bracket.
The Dons (17-14) were seeded fourth, but they will travel for their first-round match because they did not win their league.
They will face Corona-Santiago (26-5), who won its league, on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. game.
Dos Pueblos (14-14) will travel to Murrieta Valley (20-10) and take on the champion of the Southwestern League on Wednesday.
The quarterfinals for Div. 2 will be played on Saturday.
In Div. 6, Carpinteria (14-5), which tied for first in the Citrus Coast League, will face Cerritos (11-11) on the road for a first-round game that will take place on Tuesday.
The second round of the 32-team Div. 6 bracket is on Thursday and quarterfinals are on Saturday.