Will Stuart delivered for San Marcos in the second half. | Credit: ENTENZA

A capacity crowd packed onto the pool deck at Elings Aquatics Center for a celebration of Santa Barbara water polo as local rivals Dos Pueblos and San Marcos went head-to-head for the CIF-SS Division 2 Championship.

For the first time since 1994, the San Marcos boys’ water polo team captured a CIF title, defeating the Chargers 9-6 behind a second half surge.

“It was tight, they had the lead going into the third quarter and the boys were definitely a little nervous,” said San Marco coach Peera Sukavivatanachai. “DP is legit. They battled Ventura to a one-goal game and won in overtime, so we knew this game was going to be challenging.”

Dos Pueblos standout Jaden Moore scored the first goal of the game with 3:17 remaining in the first quarter, however, going forward, the Chargers fell into familiar pattern of falling behind in the first half.

Mateo Obando, Will Stuart and Jacob Magid scored consecutive goals for San Marcos to give the Royals a 3-1 advantage early in the second quarter.

Jacob Magid takes a shot in the first half. Photo Credit: Gary Kim

Moore’s second goal of the game sparked a 4-1 Dos Pueblos run. Nic Prentice scored to put San Marcos ahead 4-2 with 4:56 remaining in the second quarter, but the Chargers scored the final three goals of the first half capped off by a Benjamin Fuhrer rebound and goal from close range that put San Marcos ahead 5-4 at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to San Marcos, as the Royals outscored Dos Pueblos 4-1 in the period. Stuart found a rhythm offensively with two goals in the period that broke open the match.

“We just really amped up our aggressiveness. We were countering and pushing hard,” Stuart said. “We knew that we are an exceptionally conditioned team and that’s our strength. We did what we do best.”

Prentice increased the San Marcos lead to 8-5 with 13 second remaining in the third quarter and Dos Pueblos scored their only goal of the second half on a Grant Nelson buzzer beating, cutting the deficit to 8-6 going into the fourth quarter.

The Chargers couldn’t muster any offense in the final period as San Marcos swarmed Moore with multiple defenders to take him out of the equation. Senior Luke Burns inserted the dagger at the 4:39 mark, muscling in a goal, despite heavy resistance.

“We had to double team him and force other guys to shoot,” said Sukavivatanachi of his team’s defense on Moore. “Those were goals that we were comfortable giving up. We just wanted to make sure that Jaden didn’t score.”

The San Marcos defense continued to tighten down the stretch and the top-seeded Royals ended their CIF Championship drought as players and coaches jumped into the pool in celebration.


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