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No. 1 Hornets slip past No. 2 Vaqueros 11-9 in Regional final

Sophomore goalie Nicole Poulos made five saves vs. Riverside and four in two quarters against Fullerton. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Sophomore goalie Nicole Poulos made five saves vs. Riverside and four in two quarters against Fullerton. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

No. 2 SBCC knocked off No. 3 Riverside 8-6 in a Saturday morning semifinal, then fell to No. 1 Fullerton 11-9 for the third straight time, giving the Hornets the Southern Cal Regional women's water polo title at Cerritos College.

The Vaqueros (30-3) had their nine-game win streak snapped. The Hornets (28-2) have accounted for all three losses. Both teams qualified for the CCCAA State Final 4 next Friday and Saturday at West Valley College in Saratoga.

Santa Barbara will be making its third straight trip to the State Championships after finishing second in 2016 and winning its first title last year.

SBCC edged Fullerton 12-11 on Sept. 21 and the Hornets have won three straight since then by scores of 10-8, 10-8 and 11-9.

Emma Fraser scored four goals in the first game and three in the second, boosting her school record and state-leading season total to 120. She also eclipsed the 200-goal mark for her career with 206.

The Vaqueros trailed Fullerton 4-1 after one quarter, then rallied to tie it 5-5 on a goal by Fraser with two minutes to play in the third period.

"I was really proud of our team this weekend," said coach Chuckie Roth. "We played very hard and showed a lot of resiliency. We're going to state as the No. 2 team from Southern California and the girls have a lot to be proud of.

"They work extremely hard and are a pleasure to coach."

Sarah Parson had two goals vs. Fullerton and four steals in both the semifinal and the final. Kemi Djikstra scored twice vs. Riverside and Kelee Shimizu had a goal and three steals. Fraser broke a 5-5 tie entering the fourth quarter against Riverside by scoring at 6:28 and 4:25 for a 7-5 lead.

Tori Bray's goal with 1:24 to play cut Fullerton's lead to 10-9. Jessica Contreras added an insurance goal for the Hornets at the 29-second mark.