Paul Wellman

From Goleta to Carpinteria, the recent season of high school sports has been a winter wonderland. Two teams won CIF Southern Section crowns—the incomparable Dos Pueblos High water polo girls, who capped their second straight 31-0 season against the nation’s toughest competition with their fourth championship; and the Cate School boys soccer team, which also had a perfect season (22-0) and outscored its playoff opponents 27-3 while winning the small-school title.

Kiley Neushul and Tiera Schroeder were constants during the DP girls’ remarkable four-year run, during which they won 116 of 122 games, including the last 67. Neushul, now training with the U.S. national team, scored nine goals in the championship game, a 16-10 victory over Foothill. Santa Barbara High coach Mark Walsh observed that the Chargers’ winning streak—against opponents who all were inspired by the opportunity to take down the champs—defied the usual up-and-down nature of sports. “Some days you just don’t have it,” Walsh said. “But they had it and had it and had it. …”

Three other area teams made it to the final rung of the Southern Section playoff ladder—the Santa Barbara and Carpinteria boys soccer teams, both coming up a goal short in their Southern Section division finals; and the Bishop Diego boys basketball team, overtaken by Valley Torah in the last quarter of their championship game. All three runner-up teams were invited to compete in state regional tournaments.

Santa Barbara kicked off the regionals against Canoga Park of the L.A. City Section on Monday. The Dons advanced by winning a dramatic penalty-kick shootout at Peabody Stadium. It continued their tightrope journey through the postseason—a pair of sudden-death overtime wins and a shootout victory over West Torrance preceded their 2-1 loss to San Clemente in last Saturday night’s Division 1 final.

It appeared the Dons might be doomed by fatigue when Canoga Park took a 1-0 lead late in the second half Monday. But rugged senior Sanford Spivey went on the attack. With just more than three minutes remaining, Tony Alfaro hit a high cross toward the goal. “Tony put a floating ball up there, and I threw my body at it,” Spivey said. His forceful header boomed into the corner netting to tie the score.

After a scoreless overtime period, a raucous crowd gathered in the stands behind the west goal to make noise during the shootout. Canoga Park shot first and scored. Spivey stepped up for the Dons and buried his shot. Miguel Solis, the small but cat-like Santa Barbara goalie known as “Midgee,” made a diving save on the visitors’ next attempt. That opened the door for the Dons. They connected on all their PKs—Edgar Ruiz, Thomas Crawford, Tyler Schleich, and Alberto Hernandez doing the honors—for a 5-4 shootout victory.

“We’ve gone to PKs three times and always come out on top,” said Spivey. “When Midgee gets a save, it gives us confidence.”

These Dons (19-6-4) may not be as spectacular as last year’s team, which lost only once in 32 games, but they are mentally tough.

HISTORIC DUEL: It was a classy move by San Marcos High baseball coach Tony Vanetti to let Ghazaleh Sailors pitch to a couple batters in the bottom of the fourth inning before replacing her on the mound last Saturday. “I got an ovation and tipped my hat to the crowd,” said Sailors, who allowed two runs and three hits in 3 1/3 innings. Her counterpart on the Birmingham High team, Marti Sementelli, was the winner in the unprecedented showdown of female flingers. She hurled a complete game, allowing five hits in a 6-1 victory. Sailors stroked a single off Sementelli as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. The unique game at the Birmingham field in Van Nuys was a media magnet. “There were a lot of cameras,” Sailors said. “I think they made my teammates nervous.”

THE FAME GAME: Former Santa Barbara City College coach Rusty Fairly was quite an athlete in his day. He was recently inducted into the Long Beach City College Hall of Champions for feats that he performed as the football team’s quarterback and baseball catcher from 1951-53. Fairly was SBCC’s baseball coach from 1965-82 and later served 12 years as a city councilmember. … Gene Pagliaro, a recent Santa Barbara resident, was inducted into the California Community College Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame last Saturday for his work as an assistant coach at Antelope Valley Community College. … Also on Saturday, John Ward, a longtime boys basketball coach at Bishop Diego and Carpinteria high schools, was posthumously inducted into the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Ward died of cancer last year. His son Johnny took over as coach at Carpinteria.


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