Down by a goal with two minutes to go in its first-ever NorCal Division III final, the St. Ignatius boys’ water polo team needed a rally.
Leading scorer Billy Barry gave them one. With 1:43 to go, Barry took a rebound off the cross bar as he moved to the right, fired from a meter out and beat the Walnut Creek-Northgate goalie.
Barry’s goal touched off a run of three straight for the Wildcats, who downed the Broncos 9-7 at Independence High School to win the school’s first ever regional water polo title.
The game-tying goal was Barry’s third of the night, two days after he scored five in the regional semifinal against El Diamante, and four days after he netted five against Atascadero in the regional quarterfinal.
Barry’s first score gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead in the first, after goals from Cole Lally and Victor Dollosso. Northgate’s Reid Stein scored four of his five goals in the first half, but another score by Barry plus goals from Dollosso and freshman Dylan Murphy, gave St. Ignatius a 6-4 halftime lead.
Senior Wildcats goalkeeper Luca Caniglia racked up nine saves, and nearly kept a clean sheet in the third quarter, going four minutes without giving up a a goal before Cole Sanchez broke the spell to tip the momentum toward the Broncos. Northgate scored two quick goals to start the fourth quarter, getting a game-tying shot from Omar Shalabi with 5:38 to go and the go-ahead score from Stein with 3:22 to go.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Northgate’s Cole Sanchez had the ball within two meters of the cage and a clear path to score. As St. Ignatius’ Cole Lally closed on Sanchez, Caniglia darted out to poke the ball away.
Caniglia made key stops with 3:05 to go and and 2:50 to go, before Barry’s final tally, his 127th of the season and 31st playoff goal. Barry was followed 41 seconds later by Dollosso’s second goal to give the Wildcats the lead.
With 24 seconds left, Patrick Wooler scored to close things out.
Wooler added two steals and a block to lead the defensive effort.
Barry added a steal and a save — getting the latter on a first-quarter power play by Northgate, which called a time out to set up a play after a goaltender exclusion foul. Murphy added a block, Kendrick and Dollosso had a steal apiece and sophomore Nic Paez had one steal and one block.