Turlock and Pitman high schools’ boys’ water polo teams have had very different seasons in the Central California Conference this year.
For Turlock, the win would secure a potential second place seeding for the season in the CCC and Pitman was just playing for pride.
From the start it was a battle between both sides, as it usually tends to be, and this time it was Turlock who went up early in the game and never looked back.
Each side scored one goal after the first period but then Turlock eased their way into their comfort zone and eventually caught fire, paving the way for the team’s seventh league win of the year, 11-7.
“We started off the season sluggish, our offense was pretty bad and our defense also pretty bad so we’ve been working on fixing everything as the year has gone on,” said Pitman assistant coach Toby Stonelake. “We were trying to keep this elite team down in their goals to a minimal but it’s tough.”
“Our kids came to play and we played a little better and we’ve been working on offense since defense has been our strength all year long,” said Turlock head coach Aaron Weiss. “We’ve been working on half court offense because it stalled a bit in the middle of the season.”
Turlock finishes the year at 7-3 in the CCC, tied with Atwater for second while Pitman finishes last in league after a 1-9 season.
“We have got four strong juniors coming back and our backup goalie as well is coming back, so we’re hoping to have that experience help us out and hope they continue to train and get better,” said Stonelake about next year.
Turlock’s Jakob Bradley scored the go-ahead goal with 6:35 on the clock in the second, and the Bulldogs followed Bradley, eventually outscoring Pitman 5-3 in the second to go up 6-4 at the break.
Jared Bernardi scored the eighth goal for Turlock on a penalty shot with 4:43 in the third, and by the start of the fourth, Turlock’s lead had built to 11-6.
Dom Walls scored the only goal in the fourth and the Bulldogs went on to defeat Pitman for the second time this season.
“We were moving the ball better and getting into set when we needed to and overall some great opportunities, but we made good blocks as well,” said Weiss. “We definitely played better than the last time.”
Turlock will now advance into the Division I playoffs but the opponent and time are yet to be determined. For more information visit cifsjs.org.