For a good part of the season, the Santa Barbara High girls water polo team has been hoping to hit its stride.
The Dons have earned some key wins this season, but not all of those games looked like their victory against Schurr High Tuesday to kick off their run at their annual Tournament of Champions.
Santa Barbara came out firing on all cylinders, offensively and defensively, against Schurr and picked up an impressive 10-6 win.
“I don’t know what clicked, but something did today. Our communication was good, our defense was good and we are finally scoring which we’ve struggled with this season,” senior co-captain Abagail Hendrix said after the win.
“I think this game really showed how all of us can kind of play everywhere and all of us have each other’s backs and we can just push through anything.”
That victory pushed the Dons into the winner’s bracket where they would later lose to Newport Beach, 12-1.
Focusing on the win, however, one key component was the return of Juju Martinez do amaral.
Martinez do amaral sat last Saturday’s game against Oaks Chrisitan because of an elbow injury.
“It hurts, but I can play,” the junior said about her decision to play on Thursday.
Santa Barbara certainly needed her offense as Martinez do amaral had three goals and assisted on six others, combining to account for two-thirds of Santa Barbara’s goals.
“I always try to help the team. I know I’m one of the key players on offense and defense so I’m just trying to help everyone the whole time and give my best to help us win,” Martinez do amaral said.
While the Dons were happy to have the junior back into the lineup, they still are not 100%.
“We have a lot of girls sick right now, including me,” Hendrix said.
Still, that didn’t stop the senior from having a game-high four goals on defense to lead the Dons in a resounding win.
Hendrix was key in the first frame as her back-to-back scores put Santa Barbara in front 3-1.
“I actually don’t score that often but I knew since Juju was out, she wasn’t really scoring much from the outside and I knew I just had to step it up and score and be that person this game. Normally I’m not normally a more of a passer and defender but I knew what I had to do today,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix added four steals in the game.
The second quarter kicked off with two scores from the Spartans to tie it up, but then Martinez do amaral scored, assisted on another, then scored again to give the Dons a 6-3 halftime lead.
“I know what’s gonna happen next. I’m always one step ahead of everyone so I can really think ahead of everyone and that gets me open in the water,” Martinez do amaral said.
In the second half, Santa Barbara was never threatened thanks to a great defensive performance from goalkeeper Faith Tedesco.
In the loss against Newport, Tedesco had 10 saves and Hendrix scored in the first period and had three field blocks.
“They’re a really good team but I’m glad we’re in the top 16 because we get to play teams that are ranked above us and some of that is ranked below us so now we’re going to still get more good games. Overall that win was huge,” Hendrix said.
Dos Pueblos can’t push through winning score
Before Santa Barbara defeated Schurr, it was the Dos Pueblos High girls water polo team that got to get the Tournamnet of Champions underway against Long Beach Wilson.
The Chargers were in control for much of the contest, but their offense went cold at the wrong time.
Up by three goals more than halfway through the third period, Dos Pueblos was held scoreless the rest of the match, losing to Long Beach Wilson, who scored a sudden-death goal in double overtime with 54 seconds remaining, 7-6.
The Chargers were held scoreless for the final 16 minutes and 19 seconds of the contest.
“It’s very frustrating. (Long Beach Wilson) is a team we beat at the Villa Park tournament by two. They’re a good team, they have good players and they’re well-coached, but you just want to come out on top of those games. That’s the second overtime loss we’ve had this year and you always want to win those, but we’ll keep our heads up,” DP coach Bryan Snyder said.
Early on, the Chargers offense was chugging along well. Junior Kelly Meckelborg got DP on the board with the first score of the afternoon and, with her team up 4-3 after the half, she scored two goals in the third to put her team in front 6-3 in the third frame.
The Bruins were able to pull closer, however, with a pair of goals from their freshman phenom, Maya O’Dae.
She scored two goals in the final 3 minutes and 13 seconds of the third period to pull her team within one.
For most of the fourth quarter, senior goalkeeper Anna Cable was doing her best to keep DP in front, but with a little over two minutes left Long Beach Wilson snuck one through to tie it up at 6-6.
The rest of the fourth and even the first overtime period saw the Chargers have plenty of chances to score. They even won the opening sprint in the first overtime and immediately called timeout to try to draw up a winning play.
LB-Wilson’s O’Dae scored the final goal with 54 seconds remaining to sink DP in the TOC opener.
“I just think everyone needs to step up because right now it seems to just be the seniors and a few juniors talking and communicating I think some of the underclassmen might be a little nervous,” Cable said.
They are comfortable with us but I think they’re not comfortable enough right now in the game to say anything.
“Any game you lose is frustrating but you can’t change what happens, you could only improve.”
DP closed out the night with a win over Schurr, 10-6, to get back on the right side of things.