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PHOTO, TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Foothill's Noelle Wijnbelt scored six goals, including the winner in sudden-death overtime, in a 10-9 victory at Dos Pueblos in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions on Friday night.

Foothill springs surprise on Dos Pueblos at TOC

STAFF WRITER

GOLETA – Orange County’s girls water polo season added another layer of intrigue Friday at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

One night after a county-record winning streak was snapped, second-ranked Foothill promptly deflated host Dos Pueblos, which was still floating high after knocking off top-ranked Laguna Beach in a nonleague game Thursday.

In fitting fashion for this season, Foothill won the quarterfinal match Friday in sudden-death overtime. Sophomore center Noelle Wijnbelt scored from 2 meters just 25 seconds into the extra session to lift Foothill past Dos Pueblos, 10-9, and into today’s semifinals.

The Knights (12-3) face unbeaten San Marcos (14-0) at 12:15 p.m. at Santa Barbara High.

“It’s pretty interesting, but we have to keep our poise,” said Wijnbelt, who scored a team-high six goals in the game at Dos Pueblos High.

“We were really excited (that Dos Pueblos beat Laguna Beach) but also really surprised because we beat Dos Pueblos but we’ve never beat Laguna.”

Foothill’s Val Ayala (two goals) won the sprint to open sudden-death overtime, and Brooke Maxson made the entry pass to Wijnbelt, who beat one-on-one coverage with a strong turn and shot at center.

"We did a better job of setting up Noelle," Foothill coach Jim Brumm said.

The Knights led by three goals three times in the third period, but Dos Pueblos (9-4) found another gear.

The Chargers, who broke Laguna Beach’s 63-game winning streak with an 11-7 nonleague victory Thursday, erased Foothill’s 8-5 lead going into the fourth. Freshman Abbi Hill tied the score, 9-9, with 2:21 left in the fourth on a power-play strike.

Hill’s goal, her sixth, came about a minute after Petra Huebner stopped a penalty shot by Wijnbelt. But the defense of Foothill and goalie Kenzie Snyder (12 saves) held to force overtime.

“It was definitely good to get a win here,” Brumm said. “The key thing is to keep on improving.”

Foothill also beat Dos Pueblos, 12-8, in early December but lost to San Marcos, 7-5.

Dos Pueblos is ranked sixth in CIF-SS Division 1. Laguna Beach, the two-time defending Division 1 champion, is ranked No. 1.

“This season, there’s going to be a lot of parity,” Dos Pueblos coach Chris Parrish said. "Our league (with Santa Barbara and San Marcos) is going to be ridiculous."

In the other semifinal today, Laguna Beach plays No. 3 Orange Lutheran at 11:10 a.m. at Santa Barbara High.

In other quarterfinals:

San Marcos 8, No. 4 Corona del Mar 4: Junior Jaleh Moaddeli scored twice at Dos Pueblos and emerging junior Rosie Ritner added one for the Sea Queens, who edged No. 5 Mater Dei, 7-6, in the first round on a perimeter strike by sophomore Chloe Harbilas with about 50 seconds left.

"They're all growing. It's good to see," CdM coach Kevin Ricks said after the San Marcos game.

The Monarchs went 1 for 5 on penalty shots against CdM, one of which was blocked by Heidi Ritner.

No. 1 Laguna Beach 7, Santa Barbara 6: The Breakers (13-1) edged the host Dons to reach the semifinals. In another sign of parity, Santa Barbara is ranked seventh in Division 1.

No. 3 Orange Lutheran 13, Royal of Simi Valley 7: The Lancers beat the No. 1-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 4 to reach the semifinals.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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