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Santa Barbara Teaches Royal a Painful Lesson : Water polo: Highlanders lose, 18-8, in Southern Section Division IV semifinal.


GOLETA — If they learn from their mistakes, the members of the Royal High water polo team ought to earn master's degrees out of this one.

The Highlanders were slow, sluggish and sloppy and lost, 18-8, to Santa Barbara in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division IV playoffs on Saturday afternoon at UC Santa Barbara.

But it might not have mattered if Royal had played better. They still might not have beaten the second-seeded Dons.

"We've got to use this film as a training film," Royal Coach Steve Snyder said. "What not to do for us and what to do for them."

Santa Barbara (23-6) features three All-Americans--Brad Kittridge, Katsuma Gufuku and goalie Billy Drown--and they all did their part in beating Royal. Kittridge scored seven goals, Gufuku three.

"(Kittridge) is outstanding," Royal goalie Randy Zielinski said. "Geez. That guy's got a shot.

"He's real fast and he's not a ball hog either. He made some passes when he had the shot."

Santa Barbara, which will play San Marcos on Wednesday for the championship, used deft passing to exploit man-advantage situations created by quick counterattacks.

The Dons led, 5-1, after the first quarter and 9-3 at halftime.

"Our defense kind of got burned today," Zielinski said. "They were a better fast-break team than us."

When Zielinski tried to start counterattacks for Royal with long passes down the pool, Drown swam out to grab the ball.

"Normally those passes would be fine," Zielinski said, "but that goalie was real fast."

Zielinski made eight saves for Royal (16-12). Bill Bruininga scored three goals and Curtis Richeson had two for the Highlanders, who won a share of their 14th straight Marmonte League title.

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