SF Preps: St. Ignatius water polo advances to NorCal semifinal

Wildcats blast Atascadero to advance in CIF state bracket after winning CCS title over weekend

A year after having playoffs halted due to poor air quality, thanks to fires in the northern Bay Area, the St. Ignatius boys’ water polo team is headed to the NorCal semifinals.

The Wildcats blasted Atascadero 23-14 in the City College of San Francisco pool, getting out to a fast start by scoring 15 goals in the first half alone to the Greyhounds’ seven.

St. Ignatius went 15-8 last year, losing in the first round of the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, but likely would have gone on to the NorCal regionals, had smoke from fires in wine country not lowered air quality to unhealthy levels.

Though the Wildcats went just 7-16 during the regular season this year, they ran the table in the Central Coast Section Division II bracket for their second title in the last three years, beating Carmel 16-15 on Saturday.

On Tuesday evening, St. Ignatius got five goals from Billy Barry, four from Finnegan Moran and three from Nic Paez and were ahead comfortable for most of the game.

Atascadero led 2-1 with 5:44 to go in the first quarter, but Barry tied the game with 5:32 to go in the frame, and St. Ignatius never looked back. Senior goaltender Luca Caniglia had six saves in goal and a steal.

The Wildcats will now host the NorCal regional semifinal on Thursday at City College at 5 p.m. They will face the winner of Merced-El Capitan (21-8) and Visalia-El Diamante (24-6), who were set to play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

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