GOLETA Orange Lutheran’s girls water polo team showed Saturday night far from home how to bounce back from setbacks.
The third-ranked Lancers pushed aside an overtime loss Tuesday against a Trinity League rival to finish their week by capturing the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions with a 9-7 triumph against No. 4 Foothill in a surprising pairing under the lights at Dos Pueblos.
Orange Lutheran (12-5) dropped a wild match in overtime to Santa Margarita earlier in the week, and fell to surging San Marcos 9-8 in a pre-tournament match Thursday. But the third-seeded Lancers opened two three-goal leads against fourth-seeded Foothill (14-4) in the second half and then made the plays down the stretch to capture the tournament for the first time since its CIF-SS Division 1 title season of 2016.
“I love that the girls bounced back,” Orange Lutheran co-coach Steve Carrera said. “Obviously (our) senior leadership is huge and the girls believing and really trusting in the process, trusting the coaches. … We really didn’t expect anything less.”
Senior tri-captain Hannah Palmer twice showed Orange Lutheran’s resolve in the fourth period. The UCLA-bound utility scored the opening goal off a post-up move in which she regained control of a ball that Foothill appeared to steal.
Foothill, which upset No. 1 Foothill 4-3 in the semifinals, responded with a power-play strike by Kelly Hungerford and a slick back-handed shot from center Julia Janov. But Palmer later drew an penalty shot that fellow captain and tournament MVP Brooke Hourigan converted for an 8-6 lead with 3:25 left.
Emerging center Izzy Gazzaniga scored from center with 2:31 remaining to extend Orange Lutheran’s lead to 9-7.
The Lancers sealed the title in the final two minutes with a steal by freshman Anna Pearson and a save and steal by senior goalie Alyssa Barnuevo (10 saves), another senior captain.
“This is a big tournament to win but we can’t slow down,” said Palmer, whose team beat San Marcos 12-3 in the semifinals. “This year, it looks like it’s anyone’s game.”
Celeste Wijnbelt scored twice and Malia Allen added a goal and three assists for Foothill.
In the third-place match:
Laguna Beach 10, San Marcos (OT) 8: Rachael Carver drew an exclusion and scored the go-ahead goal off a pass from Molly Renner with 1:28 left in the second three-minute overtime to lift the Breakers (15-1).
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