If Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheon is any indication, winter sports are upon us. The weekly gathering at Harry’s Plaza Cafe was notably absent of fall sports contenders, giving the high school soccer and college basketball coaches center stage in their first appearances of the year.
The one playoff team in attendance was Laguna Blanca’s 8-man football team coming off a 47-22 victory on Saturday. Senior captain Quentin Tedesco was voted Athlete of the Week for his performance in that game, scoring four touchdowns on offense and recording 15 tackles and three interceptions on defense. Tedesco was at the luncheon with teammates Christian Fowler and Parker Rusack – both sophomores – and head coach Shane Lopes.
Laguna Blanca fell behind 22-0 in that game before staging a convincing rally. Lopes explained how the Owls have had problems starting slow this season, but have also done a good job of turning it around and coming back to win.
“We’re really proud of our players for responding, and that’s what it’s really about is how we respond to adversity,” Lopes said.
The other Athlete of the Week was Chloe Allen for leading San Marcos’ volleyball team to a big win over rival Santa Barbara that clinched the city championship and second place in the Channel League for the Royals.
Most of the day was dominated by soccer.
Westmont Sports Information Director Ron Smith reported on another playoff team, the Warriors’ women’s soccer squad. Kristi Kiely’s team is ranked No. 3 in the country and expects to host a NAIA Tournament game at Thorrington Field on November 23. Smith shared some comments preprepared by Kiely.
“I’m extremely proud of and excited about this group and their accomplishments so far this season,” Smith read. “We have set ourselves up to be in a really good spot heading into the national tournament.”
Warriors’ goalkeeper Lindsey Smith was named co-GSAC Player of the Year for leading a defense that has only allowed six goals this season.
The high school soccer teams are just getting started with their seasons. Both the boys and girls teams from San Marcos shared their hopes and expectations for the upcoming months.
“We have a young, fast, talented squad and we’re looking to do great things this year led by two of our seniors who are here today,” said girls head coach Macie Berlin, who brought four-year varsity players Ashley Carney and Hannah Harrah.
The boys team has a new coaching staff led by Rob Lauderdale. Joining Lauderdale as assistants are former UCSB players James Kiffe, Waid Ibrahim and Sam Hayden.
Kiffe, a San Marcos alum, was at the luncheon with players Robbie Landeros and Nick Hale.
“We are definitely looking to rebuild this year. To say that last year was a challenge is an understatement,” Lauderdale said.
Leo Quintero is back for his second year as head coach of Carpinteria High’s boys soccer team. The Warriors have won at least a share of the Tri-Valley League championship in five of the past six seasons but graduated 17 seniors from last year’s team. With only three returners, Quintero said he’s looking forward to seeing what the new pieces can do.
“I’m excited, I’m eager to see how this pans out.”
Erin Durflinger and Alexa Benitez represented the Warriors’ girls team, although their head coach Charles Bryant was not there. Bryant also coaches the Warriors’ No. 1-ranked girls tennis team that was playing in a CIF quarterfinal match.
On a day on which our country honored its war veterans, a true luncheon vet took the podium and talked about his team’s first battles on that basketball court.
“Been there for 21 years and I’m really excited about our team this year,” said Westmont men’s basketball coach John Moore.
While Moore wasn’t happy with a season-opening loss in which the Warriors defense was non-existent, his team responded by beating the No. 4 team in NAIA Division 2 with a strong defensive effort.
“They say defense wins ball games and that may not always be the truth, but when you give up 104 one week and 64 the next, there is reason to believe that maybe defense does mean something,” Moore said.
The press luncheon, open to the public, returns next Monday to Harry’s Cafe starting at noon.