Fresh off an undefeated Channel League finish — in both the regular season and the league tournament — Santa Barbara High was ready to start the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs with a bang.
The Dons did just that opening the match with seven scores in the opening frame, earning a lead that was as high as 10 goals, and, in the end, coming out with a 17-10 over Rio Mesa High at Santa Barbara’s home pool.
With the win, the Dons now advance to the second round and will play Eidson High on Thursday.
“We just want a ring. We want to get first place in CIF, we are just really looking for that,” Senior Chase Raisin said.
“We’re definitely in positive spirits right now.”
The Santa Barbara offense was definitely in a positive spirit in the first quarter. Overall, the Dons scored on seven of their first eight possessions.
In particular, the seniors came out wanting to make that postseason statement clear.
Santa Barbara pounced on its opponents and led 5-0 not even four minutes into the contest. Seniors Raisin, Dylan Fogg, and Adam Coffin were all involved in the scoring with Raisin tallying two and his teammates each tallying one.
From there, however, the seniors didn’t see that much more time. They got to enjoy the afternoon as the reserves played well, keeping the opponents at bay. That allowed the seniors time to rest up and catch up.
“Yeah reminiscing on that (their careers) with my other fellow seniors on the bench, it’s crazy that four years at the high school went by so fast. From little freshmen, never playing on varsity to sophomore year starting, Junior year starting, and now senior year I’m like wow, we’re done,” Raisin said.
Overall, Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh utilized 19 players in Wednesday’s game.
“Everyone works really, really hard and some of them get into a few varsity games but some of them play JV or freshman but at other schools, they would be varsity. I think they deserve all the playing time they could get,” Walsh said.
One of the young subs that Walsh used was freshman goalkeeper Jaxon Buford who tallied eight saves on the day.
The young man was impressive but still has a lot to learn from sophomore starter Wyatt Pieretti.
By the end of the first frame, Santa Barbara led 7-3 and never really looked back.
Raisin added two more goals in the second frame and helped Santa Barbara take a five-goal lead.
Up 10-4, Pieretti showed his stuff, notching two saves on a single possession, then using his arm to find Sean O’Brien who was one on one with the keeper and scored.
Pieretti did the same thing on the ensuing possession. He stuffed a shot from Rio Mesa, then threw it deep to Jack Taylor who found O’Brien cutting down the middle and scored again.
By the end of the first half, Santa Barbara led 12-5.
“It reminded a little bit of the DP game. That’s what I said (to the team). Let’s start out how we did against Dos Pueblos, where we were reading the pool, we were making good decisions, we were making good passes and we were not playing frantic,” Walsh said.
The second half consisted of a lot of the same type of play. Santa Barbara outscored Rio Mesa 3-1 in the third to lead 15-6 and earned its highest lead of the game at 16-6 following a goal from Taylor.
Dean Moody was the leading scorer for the Spartans with four goals and was really a force with his left hand, but the Dons depth became too much to overcome, helping them earn a 17-7 win at home.
Santa Barbara is not done playing at home either.
Because Edison High won, the Dons will host the second-round match between the two teams at 5 p.m. on Thursday, giving another chance for the seniors to enjoy their home crowd for possibly the last time.
“I’m super confident (in our team), in our seniors, in our juniors and our sophomore keeper. We are all playing looking good and I am excited for the next round,” Raisin said.