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June 2002 trip to here for photos

Trip to Croatia and Hungary.  Click here for details and photos



November 24, 2002

CCS boys water polo: Knights cap off incredible run


SAN JOSE — They showed no weakness, and left no doubt.

The Soquel High boys water polo team easily proved itself the best team in the Central Coast Section Division II tournament and perhaps in all of Northern California by soundly defeating Menlo School in the championship game Saturday, 14-4.

"It’s just amazing," said junior driver Russell Simpkins. "It’s so great that we were able to do this. It’s great to see some old players come back and for (coach) Marcelo (Adas). You can see he’s so happy."

Truly, Adas’ grin stretched from cheek to cheek. And why shouldn’t it have? The Knights played so well they hardly got their hair wet during the morning game at Independence High.

"This was our dream," Adas said. "We’ve been close a couple of times, but today was the day.

"All our goals, all our workouts were focused for this day. That’s why we won. It’s not just a fluke."

Nor is it a fluke that the Knights are being called the best team in Northern California.

Soquel suffered just two losses in 35 games. The first came midseason, a 10-8 loss to Jesuit of Sacramento. The second came when the Knights lost the championship game of the John Felix Invitational, generally considered California’s state water polo tournament, earlier this month. There, Southern California powerhouse Long Beach Wilson handed Soquel a narrow 14-12 defeat.

"I’ve coached against an amazing Coronado team and an undefeated Long Beach team," said Menlo coach Jack Bowen, "and I’d put Soquel in their league."

Some would argue that Bellarmine Prep (30-5), which won the CCS D-I tournament over St. Francis on Saturday, also has rights to the title of the Best of the North — particularily since the Bells and the Knights never clashed this season. But Adas discounts that claim.

"Some people say Bellarmine is No. 1, but Bellarmine lost to Menlo this year, and we beat them in every tournament," he said.

The Bells finished fifth in the John Felix tournament.

What is indisputable, however, is that Soquel is the first Santa Cruz County water polo team in the 28 years of CCS play to win a championship. The Knights twice made it to the championship game, in 1998 and 2000, only to lose to Bellarmine. One-time SCCAL power Harbor High, in its heyday, never made it past the semifinals.

Despite their previous bad luck at CCS, Saturday the Knights made being the best look easy.

Though Adas didn’t restrict his players with the extra rules he often implements during games in which Soquel holds a sizable lead, it looked as if he had. The Knights worked the ball around the pool, capitalized on Menlo’s mistakes and made few poor decisions.

It was a complete turnaround from Wednesday’s semifinal game against Sacred Heart Prep, in which, with senior Brian Jacobs out with a bout of strep throat and the rest of the players mired in a funk, the Knights were lucky to escape with the 11-6 win.

With Jacobs back in the lineup Saturday, Soquel didn’t miss a stroke.

"They’ve got a lot of confidence because they’ve played together for a long time," Bowen said. "They knew exactly when to drive, exactly when to shoot. You can just tell they’ve been playing together forever."

Sophomore Wesley Levicki put the Knights in motion with a steal and a goal just 30 seconds into the game. Then Matt Jacobs scored three more unanswered goals for Soquel.

Simpkins capitalized on a penalty shot with less than a minute left, and it looked like the Knights would finish the quarter by blanking Menlo, 5-0. But a long shot fired by Menlo senior Adam Haley with 4 seconds left took Soquel goalie Chris Williams by surprise and ended the shutout.

The goal only seemed to fuel the Knights more, as Matt Jacobs and Simpkins both scored in the opening minute of the second quarter. Another Matt Jacobs goal would stick Menlo with an 8-1 halftime deficit.

In the second half, the Knights continued to find ways to put the ball in the cage while also keeping their own net empty. In fact, Menlo’s final three goals didn’t come until the waning two minutes, after both coaches had subbed their benches into the game.

In all, Matt Jacobs ended with six goals, Simpkins added four, Brian Jacobs tipped in two, while Levicki and senior Tom Stricklen added one apiece. Williams, a sophomore, made 10 saves.

"We knew what we needed to do," Adas said. "They got amped and just did it."

But with the win, the surging Knights’ season seemed to come to an abrupt end, especially since no higher regional or state tournament exists.

"I wish there was something else," Simpkins said. "But CCS is the top, and we won it."

Contact Julie Jag at

Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

November 21, 2002

For Knights, ‘better an ugly win than a beautiful loss’


SAN JOSE — The Soquel High boys water polo team didn’t need any extra self-imposed rules this time, it was challenged throughout its entire Central Coast Section Division II semifinal match Wednesday.

But the challenge the Knights faced in their 11-6 victory at Independence High wasn’t really overcoming opponent Sacred Heart Prep, though the Gators did put up a good fight. More than that it was overcoming their own off-kilter play.

The Knights struggled so much that starting driver Russell Simpkins sounded like he was talking about a losing team after the game.

"Nothing went right at all," the junior said. "I don’t know what happened. We just couldn’t play. Everybody was off."

Soquel coach Marcelo Adas agreed, but as he said, "better an ugly win than a beautiful loss."

And with the ugly win, the Knights will be right where they envisioned being at the start of the season — facing second-ranked Menlo School in the CCS championship game. The game starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Independence High. If Soquel wins, it will be the first public-school D-II champion since 1997.

On its way to earning a 32-2 record, the Knights faced many teams that had no chance of keeping pace, including their quarterfinal victim, San Mateo. So, to challenge his team and keep the game from being a blowout, Adas often imposed limitations on his team, such as requiring several passes or working a play completely through once before shooting.

Wednesday, though, those limitations would probably have been too much the Soquel team to handle.

The day first started to sour for the Knights when starting senior Brian Jacobs came down with a case of Strep throat. Then coach Marcelo Adas forgot the players’ caps in the car, causing them to have to borrow the Independence High team’s royal blue hats for half of the first quarter.

When the game started, things didn’t improve. Less than a minute in, Sacred Heart’s 2-meter man, Brandon Child, whipped a backhanded shot past Soquel goalie Chris Williams for the game’s first score.

Senior Matt Jacobs countered with two goals to give the Knights the lead, but failed to give them any breathing room when his penalty shot — earned by Tom Stricklen late in the first quarter — was stopped by Gators goalie Chris Wittam.

"Usually when we lose a 4-meter shot, it shakes up the confidence of the team," said Adas, adding that he wasn’t comfortable at all with the 2-1 score after the first period. "I thought it was going to be a hard game, but that wasn’t the result I wanted to see for the first quarter."

The Knights weren’t exactly the aqua equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters in the second period either, but by taking advantage of Sacred Heart turnovers and misplays, Soquel was able to stretch its lead to 7-2.

By the start of the fourth, the Soquel squad began to relax a little more, comfortable behind its 10-2 lead. But the Gators weren’t giving in. Taking advantage of the Knights’ second string, they cut into the Knights’ padding by racking up four goals in 3:30.

"I told them they had to play four games today, one per period," said Sacred Heart coach Brian Bell. "We won the fourth one. If it weren’t for the second period, we’d be tied 6-6."

The game consists of four periods, though, and while the Knights weren’t playing their best, they were still good enough to win. In those four periods, Matt Jacobs scored five goals, Wesley Levicki and Tom Stricklen scored two and Simpkins scored one. Sacred Heart also added an own goal. Williams made five saves.

"No matter what, we’re just a stronger team," Simpkins said. "We’re a faster team and a bigger team."

But those features alone probably won’t keep the Knights afloat against Menlo.

"If we don’t shape up," Simpkins said, "it’ll be close."

Contact Julie Jag at

Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

November 3, 2002

Soquel boys water polo falls short of goal

Sentinel Staff Report

SAN JOSE — The Soquel High boys water polo team can now justifiably call itself the second-best team in the state.

Saturday, the Knights took second at the John Felix Invitational, falling in the championship game to undefeated Long Beach Wilson at Bellarmine High, 14-12.

The John Felix tournament pairs the top eight teams in Northern and Central California against the top eight in Southern California. Because no state tournament exists, its winner is considered by most to be the unofficial state champion.

In a game that included six lead changes and was played in front of about 300 people, Soquel came close to securing that title. In fact, with a minute to play, the teams were tied at 12. But, matched against a team with 74 in the program — compared to Soquel’s 13 on varsity — as well as a storied water polo history, it fell just short.

Still, while any big loss hurts, this one’s actually OK with the Knights, who fall to 28-2 overall.

"The final could have gone either way. It went the other way unfortunately," said Soquel coach Marcelo Adas. "But there is no other team in the country that matches those two teams."

The game was a true battle of North vs. South and Adas said even rivals Bellarmine and Menlo were cheering for the Knights. They were treated to quite a show.

Long Beach Wilson scored in the final minute to break the tie. With 5 seconds left, Adas substituted an illegal player knowing Long Beach Wilson would get a penalty shot but if it missed, Soquel would get the ball back. Unfortunately for the Knights, the shot found the net.

Russell Simpkins scored five goals in the game, while Brent Garrett and Tom Stricklen both added three. Matt Jacobs scored one. Sophomore goalie Chris Williams had nine saves.

Earlier in the day, Soquel defeated Harvard West Lake 13-11 to make the final. In that game, Simpkins scored four goals, twins Matt and Brian Jacobs scored three each and Stricklen scored two. Williams made seven saves.

"We have made our point that Soquel and NorCal were well represented," Adas said. "We made our point that we can play with any Southern California team."

November 2, 2002

Soquel on verge of something special

Sentinel Staff Report

SAN JOSE — Soquel High’s boys water polo team advanced to the semifinals of the John Felix Invitational on Friday, marking the first time that a Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League water polo team has been ranked as one of the top four teams in the state.

The tournament, held at Lynbrook High and Bellarmine Prep, matches the top eight teams from Northern and Central California against the top eight teams from Southern California. Because no state tournament exists, the winner of the John Felix tournament is generally considered the state champion.

Soquel coach Marcelo Adas said making the finals of the John Felix tournament has become the Knights’ first priority.

"Our goal is to be in the final (today). And maybe win," he said. "You never know, we have potential."

Winning won’t be easy. The Knights must win two games today to achieve state-champion status, something Southern California teams are accustomed to dominating.

The Knights will begin by facing Harvard West Lake in the semifinals at 11:15 a.m. at Bellarmine Prep. If they emerge victorious there, they will take on the winner of the Corona del Mar-Long Beach Wilson semifinal match at 3:30 p.m.

Those teams have already eliminated some of the best teams in Northern California, including Jesuit of Sacramento, which put the only blemish on Soquel’s 27-1 record, and Bellarmine, generally considered the bench mark of NorCal boys water polo teams.

In fact, this is the first time in four years that any Northern California team has made the top four. Which is why Adas said he’s tickled just to have gotten this far.

"Those two wins today were big for our program — not just for our program, but for Northern California," he said. "We’re going to be the underdogs (today). We’ll be the small guy."

In their first game Friday, the Knights faced San Clemente High, a team coached by former Soquel water polo coach Don Stewart. The Knights came back from a 5-4 deficit in the second half to win 13-9.

Brian Jacobs and Tom Stricklen each scored three goals in the win. Wesley Levicki had five steals and scored a goal. Sophomore goalie Chris Williams came through with 11 saves.

The referees didn’t like Adas’ remarks in Soquel’s second game, and handed him a red card, which ejected him from the game. Still, assistant coach Aaron Silverman held the team together and led the Knights to a 16-9 win over Newport High.

Jacobs led Soquel with six goals and five steals. Stricklen scored four goals. Williams made eight stops.

Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

October 13, 2002

Soquel water polo full of attitude, victories

Sentinel staff writer

SOQUEL — On paper, the Soquel High boys water polo program is perfect. In the pool it’s a different story.

During a heated scrimmage in practice last Monday, players didn’t hold back their jeers and complaints, shooting them rapid-fire at each other and their coach.

On defense, they were in one another’s faces. On offense they attacked with ruthless determination.

In short, the Knights practiced with the same fervor and defiant attitude that most teams usually reserve for games.

"They’re the wildest group I’ve ever coached," said coach Marcelo Adas, a Brazilian who spent one year at Harbor before taking the coaching job at Soquel 11 years ago. "They’ve got a lot of attitude, a lot of feeling.

"I don’t know if they were born with big heads or if they grew up to be big heads, but I’m trying to get them to be humble."

Adas admits, though, that this Soquel group has cause to be cocky.

A certain amount of awe surrounds them. It can be seen in the eyes of their opponents, who are usually devoured by the Knights, and in the voices of Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League coaches, most of whom resigned themselves to fare no better than second.

But that’s to be expected from a program that has swept the SCCAL title seven years running and is showing no signs of losing steam. The league’s regard for this year’s team has been even more respectful than usual.

"I think they may be the best team in the history of the league," Harbor coach John Sultan said.

So far, they are. With a 20-0 record under their Speedos — something no other area team has been able to boast in at least 20 years — this year’s group appears to be unstoppable.

"We can play with any team in the country, and we’d be right there," Adas said. "Maybe any team in the world."

While the team has gained some international experience — most of its players have competed in Croatia, Hungary and Brazil as part of the Wax-em under-18 club team headed by Adas — world domination may be a little ambitious. Instead, the Knights would settle for winning the Central Coast Section tournament, something the Soquel program has never managed to do.

Twice, in 1998 and 2000, Soquel finished second in the CCS tournament. Last year the team was sure it had what it takes to finish first, but was ambushed by Los Altos in the quarterfinals.

The Knights blame that season-ending loss on their own overconfidence. They overlooked a potent competitor as they were eager to get to the finals. Several current players fear the same thing could happen again this year if they aren’t careful.

"It’s possible if we don’t change," said junior Russell Simpkins. "We’re hoping to change our work ethic and focus on just being stronger every game. We can’t think we have everything won."

Senior Brian Jacobs said the loss to Los Altos was typical of Soquel teams of late — a pattern he thinks the Knights can stop this season.

"It’s kind of in the back of our minds," said Jacobs, who is a utility player alongside his twin brother, Matthew. "We don’t want that to happen again. It was like ‘Oh yeah, Soquel is real good, real good,’ and then we got fourth.

"We don’t want Soquel to be known, which it is, as a team that starts strong and then, as the year progresses, doesn’t get any better. We don’t want that legacy left behind."

Considering they haven’t lost yet, the Knights certainly haven’t gotten any worse over the past seven years at the top of the SCCAL. The key to the their dominance, the players agree, is that most have been playing water polo together for almost a third of their lives.

The seniors — the Jacobs twins, holeman Tom Stricklen and left-handed driver Brent Garrett — began playing on Adas’ youth rec-league team six years ago. They were joined by junior starter Simpkins a year later, and sophomores goalie Chris Williams and driver Wesley Levicki a year after that. Before long, they were all traveling and playing year-round on the Wax-em team.

"You can get to know the team better," said Brian Jacobs. "You know who’s going to be where, and where they want the ball thrown to them. It helps the team."

Plus, this group has been saddled with the pressure of being perfect before. As a junior varsity squad two years ago, they also held an undefeated record.

That said, Brian Jacobs believes Soquel might be better off at the CCS tournament if gets a little dirt on its pristine record.

"If we lose a game it might benefit us in the long run because we’ll know we’re not invincible. We’ll go in with the attitude of being mentally tough and ready to play," he said.

But finding a team that can beat this Soquel team has been a problem.

It started the year by winning the prestigious John Schmidt Memorial Tournament in San Jose. Stacked with nationally-ranked programs like 2001 CCS Division I champion Bellarmine and Division II champ Menlo, the Schmidt Tournament had been the riptide in the schedule that prevented many of the Knights’ illustrious predecessors from achieving a perfect record. In fact, their victory was the first for an SCCAL team in the tournament’s storied history.

Soquel then continued its roll over some of Northern California’s toughest teams by winning the Menlo School Tournament in late September and the St. Francis Tournament last week.

And though it might mar their unspoiled season, Adas said he wouldn’t shy away from putting his boys up against any other CCS contenders. After all, he said, it doesn’t do the Knights any good to be the best if their domination can be disputed.

"I want to play with the best, and I want to win," Adas said. "I want to have no doubts about who is No. 1."

Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

October 6, 2002

Soquel boys water polo smooth at 19-0


  • Soquel High won its third boys water polo tournament of the season Saturday, defeating St. Francis in the final of the Lancers’ own tournament 11-8 in Mountain View.

    The Knights are 19-0 and the hottest team in the Central Coast Section.

    In a tight match with the Lancers, the Knights scored three goals in the final two minutes to break an 8-8 tie. The game was tied 4-4 at halftime and 8-8 at the end of the third quarter.

    Matt Jacobs had three goals to lead the Knights in the title game. Brian Jacobs added two goals and eight steals.

    In a semifinal win over Los Altos earlier, it was Matt Jacobs again leading the way with four goals. Four other Soquel players had two goals apiece.

  • October 5, 2002

    Local roundup

    Sentinel staff report

  • The Soquel boys water polo team (18-0 overall, 6-0 SCCAL) kept its winning streak alive by defeating Cupertino and Leland in the St. Francis tournament Friday.

    In game one, the Knights downed Cupertino 14-0. Russell Simpkins and Brent Garret each scored three goals, Tom Stricklen added two and Brian and Matt Jacobs had one goal and four steals each.

    In their 12-6 win over water polo power Leland, the Knights were led by Stricklen, who scored six times. Simpkins netted two goals, while the Jacobs brothers each had one goal.

    Soquel advances to the semifinals in a tournament for the third straight time this season and will face Los Altos today.

  •  Click on photo for a larger version:  The team, Menlo Park tournament 9/21/2002

    October 3, 2002

    Local Digest

    sentinel staff report

  • Water Polo
    The Cabrillo men’s team (5-10 overall, 0-1) fell in its conference opener at Delta College in Stockton. The final score was 13-5.

    Pat Malo led Cabrillo with two goals, while Danny Robertson and Dante Giorgetti each added one. Seahawks goalkeeper Johnathan Smith had 10 saves during the game.


  • The Cabrillo women’s team (6-8, 0-1) lost at Delta College 11-3 on Wednesday. The Seahawks got strong play from Tracy Turpin, who scored one goal, and goalkeeper Danni Rice, who had 10 saves.

    The Seahawks were unable to rebound from a slow start on offense.


  • The Soquel boys team (15-0) beat Santa Cruz 12-1 Tuesday.

    The Knights were led by Brian Jacobs and Brent Garrett, who each scored three goals.

    Knight goalkeeper Chris Williams recorded eight saves in the victory.

    Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

  • September 21, 2002

    Local sports roundup

    sentinel staff report

  • Soquel’s boys water polo team dominated at the Scott Roach Memorial Tournament in Menlo Park on Friday, shutting out Ferra 12-0 in their first game and stomping Mitty 16-1 in their second game.

    Senior Matt Jacobs had five goals and seven steals against Ferra. His twin brother Brian had two goals and five steals.

    The Jacobs twins, along with seniors Tom Stricklen and Brent Garrett, each had three goals against Mitty.

    The Knights beat Watsonville 12-4 on Thursday night, bringing their SCCAL record to 2-0. Their overall record is 9-0.

  • Soquel’s boys team beat Menlo 11-5 Saturday  (21 September 2002) to win the Scott Roach Invitational, its second tournament win of the year.

    Senior Brian Jacobs scored five goals and goalie Chris Williams had eights blocks and a steal to help the Knights topple Menlo.

    Soquel (11-0) beat St. Francis 14-4 to advance to the final game against Menlo. Senior Matt Jacobs scored seven goals and had seven steals against St. Francis.

  • September 13, 2002

    A race for second place: Soquel boys could be area’s best ever

    Sentinel Staff Writer

    The Soquel High boys water polo team claims to be one of the best in the school’s history. That’s enough to make the other teams in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League set their sights no higher than second.

    Knights coach Marcelo Adas, who has served a decade at Soquel, has had the team playing all summer, including trips to Brazil and the Junior Nationals 20-under Tournament, where five of his players banded together to take second. And, the team has already raised the local bar by winning the prestigious John Schmidt Tournament in San Jose, beating out previous Central Coast Section champions Menlo and Bellarmine.

    "I think they may be the best team in the history of the league," said Harbor High coach John Sultan. "It will be a challenge for us to play them."

    So the real question is, then, who will finish second? A logjam of teams will be vying for that spot in addition to seeking bids to the CCS tournament. Among them are: Harbor, San Lorenzo Valley and Aptos, while Santa Cruz and Watsonville work on shaping strong teams for future seasons.

    Here’s a look at how each team fits into the SCCAL pool.


    Coach: Marcelo Adas (10th year)

  • 2001: Soquel simply did what was expected, including sailing unmarred through SCCAL play and arriving at the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Division II water polo tournament.
  • Key returners: senior twins Matthew and Brian Jacobs, who play utility; senior 2-meter (forward) Tom Strickland; and, junior driver Russell Simpkins.
  • Key newcomers: goalie Chris Williams and driver Wesley Lecicki, both sophomores.
  • Coach’s Outlook: Adas says this crew is one of the best he’s coached, adding that the Knights’ goal is to win the Central Coast Section championships. Twice the team has finished second — in 1998 and 2000.

    "This is going to be the one that wins the most things," Adas said. "We already started that last weekend by winning the (John Schmidt) tournament."

    Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

  • September 8, 2002

    Soquel water polo team tops in tourney

    Sentinel Staff Report

  • The Soquel High boys water polo team won the prestigious, 32-team John Schmidt tournament at Bellarmine Prep for the first time Saturday.

    The Knights are believed to be the first Santa Cruz County team in years to win the long-running event, which invites the top five seeds from several sections throughout the state.

    Soquel (5-0 overall) went 3-0 on Saturday, beating Jesuit of Sacramento 6-5 in the final, defending Central Coast Section Division II champion Menlo School 8-2 in the semifinals, and Clovis West 8-5 in the quarterfinals.

    Tom Stricklen, who plays the two meter position, scored the game-winner with 2 minutes left in the final. He finished with two goals, as did teammate Russell Simpkins.

    Matt and Brian Jacobs each scored a goal and combined for 10 steals against Jesuit, which beat Bellarmine 7-5 in the semifinals.

    The Jacobs brother each scored three goals in the semifinals, and totaled 10 steals.

    Stricklen had three goals against Clovis West, and Simpkins had two. The Jacobs combined for seven steals.

    Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

  • September 7, 2002

    Soquel water polo teams start with wins

    Sentinel staff report

  • The Soquel High boys water polo team made quick work of its first foes of the season, shutting out Bear Creek High (15-0) and Gunn High (18-0) in the opening rounds of the John Schmidt Tournament in San Jose on Friday.

    Matt Jacobs committed seven steals and scored two goals against Bear Creek, while twin brother Brian and teammates Russell Simpkins and Spencer Warden scored three goals each. The Jacobs brothers rose to the occasion again versus Gunn, scoring nine goals and swiping 11 steals between them. Tom Stricklen also added four goals in the effort.

    "Soquel has a great team this year," said Marcelo Adas, the Knights’ coach of a decade. "It’s one of the best in the whole country, I’d say."

    The Knights could face up to three opponents today as they try to win the state-qualifying tournament in which they were runners-up last year. Their first obstacle will be Clovis West, whom Soquel will meet in a 9:30 a.m. quarterfinal at Bellermine Prep.

    Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.

  • Update 7/10/2002:

    Water polo team qualifies for Junior Olympics

    sentinel staff report

    SARATOGA — The Soquel Wax-em, a water polo team comprised of Santa Cruz County high school players, qualified for the National Junior Olympics competition Saturday.

    The Wax-em defeated La Marinda 9-2 and San Jose 10-3 at West Valley College to earn the sixth seed in Northern California and a shot at the national title. Out of 24 teams in the tournament, eight qualified for a berth at nationals, which will be held in the East Bay at the end of July.

    The Soquel Wax ’Em advanced from a Central and North Section qualifier at Saratoga High and West Valley College Sunday to the Junior Olympics later in the month.

    The Wax ’Em beat St. Francis Polo 7-3, La Morinda-B 8-6, and De Anza 11-1 before falling to La Morinda-A 3-1 in the final.

    Twenty-four club water polo teams competed in the Junior Olympics qualifier.

    In four games, the Wax ’Em were led Matt Jacobs’ 14 goals and 12 steals, Pat Jaconson’s 16 sprints won, and Russell Simpkins’ eight ejections drawn.

    Santa Cruz Sentinel Article: