San Marcos girls’ water polo upsets CdM in Tournament of Champions quarterfinal

Corona del Mar High coach Justin Papa instructs his team during halftime of Friday night’s quarterfinal game against Santa Barbara San Marcos in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions at Santa Barbara High.
(Photo by Matt Szabo)

The Santa Barbara San Marcos girls’ water polo team is the defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion, but still came into this weekend’s Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions as a bit of an underdog.

After beating Orange Lutheran in a nonleague match Thursday night leading into the tournament, San Marcos pulled off another upset victory Friday at Santa Barbara High.

This one stopped the tournament title dreams of Corona del Mar.

San Marcos junior Cassidy Miller made a penalty shot with 2:43 remaining in the second sudden-death overtime period, and the Royals upset No. 2-seeded CdM 8-7 in the quarterfinals.

San Marcos (11-7) will play No. 3 Orange Lutheran again in a tournament semifinal match Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at Goleta Dos Pueblos High. Top-seeded Laguna Beach plays No. 4 Foothill in the first semifinal at 11:10 a.m.

The tournament championship match is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. at Dos Pueblos.

Claire Kronen, another junior, led San Marcos with three goals. Sophomore Grace Myers paced CdM (9-3) with four goals and four steals.

San Marcos junior left-hander Megan Musick sent the game to overtime, scoring with one second left in regulation.

“I’ve got hard-working kids, and that one happened to go,” San Marcos coach Brian “Chuckie” Roth said. “CdM’s got a great goalie [Maya Avital], obviously. If you can score on her, that’s a really good thing.”

Avital made eight saves and also had a pair of steals for the Sea Kings. Senior Sophie Wallace battled foul trouble with a pair of first-half exclusions, but also had two goals.

Senior Carter Britt also scored for CdM, which led throughout the second half until Musick’s strike at the fourth-quarter buzzer. Junior defender Megan Peterson had four steals and an assist.

Miller scored the penalty shot that was drawn by San Marcos senior Fiona Kuesis, one of just two seniors on the team for the defending Division 1 champions. Kuesis, a UCLA signee, scored just one goal but was active throughout.

“She’s just a grinder,” Roth said. “If she was in construction, she’d be digging ditches all day long and never complain. She’s just a grinder, you know.”

CdM beat Santa Barbara 12-2 in the first round of the tournament. Wallace scored four goals, and Myers had three.

The Sea Kings play in a fifth-place semifinal Saturday at 10:05 a.m. at Dos Pueblos. They will try to regroup.

“[Kuesis] is a great player and she works really hard,” CdM coach Justin Papa said. “I thought we did a great job on her for a lot of the game. I thought we did a great job on her at the end, too … We just didn’t execute our game plan the exact way we wanted to do.

“I thought we left some goals on the board. At the end of the game, we kind of started going into more of a prevent type of offense … Ultimately, this is a game we can learn from. It’s a step on our road to hopefully being a CIF champion.”

In other tournament quarterfinal matches:

Laguna Beach 10, Dos Pueblos 6: The top-seeded Breakers advanced to the semifinals after Friday’s win at Dos Pueblos High.

Molly Renner led Laguna Beach (14-0) with three goals, and Claire Kelly scored two. Renner, Kelly and Rachael Carver all scored two goals in a 12-4 first-round win against Studio City Harvard-Westlake.

Foothill 4, Newport Harbor 3: The Sailors were edged Friday at Dos Pueblos High.

Newport Harbor (7-5), which defeated San Clemente 11-3 in the first round, plays Dos Pueblos in a fifth-place semifinal Saturday at 9 a.m.

Twitter: @mjszabo