A coin flip was the difference in making the playoffs last year for the Pitman varsity girls water polo team.
The Pride tied with Turlock High in the Central California Conference with a 6-6 record that put them both in third place. The tiebreaker became a coin toss and Turlock got the better end, earning a playoff berth, while the Pride were left out of the postseason for a third straight year.
Head coach Erica Crain knows that this squad has the potential to leap over the postseason barrier that has hindered the Pride’s playoff hopes the past two seasons.
“Second year in a row tied for third and a lot of it is who you beat and don't beat, but we lost by a coin flip, so luck of the draw and got the short end. But, I think this year we should be different,” said Crain.
Pitman finished off the season as best they could, earning a one-goal victory over their crosstown rivals, Turlock, tying them in league and earning the season split at 1-1.
The potential of the 2017 squad looks to be there, but the four seniors will have to learn how to mesh with the incoming herd of juniors from a junior varsity team that placed third in league just a season ago.
Some of those JV players also have experience playing at the club level according to Crain.
“We have a lot in the up and coming junior class. A couple of them played summer ball that should be good assets as well, always different from JV to varsity,” said Crain. “I only have four seniors and two last year, so we will be young again, but a lot of the other schools graduated a lot of good players so we will see if we can swoop in on that.”
To reach that goal will require effort from the entire roster, with the team's centerpiece revolving around Hannah Pimentel, Olivia Salafia and Leah Trainor.
“They are definitely the leaders,” said Crain. “This would be my third year with my seniors so they know what I expect and they know what needs to be done and they seem a little more excited this year. They are here at 5 a.m. and are happy and excited, so we will see how the season goes.”
The CCC looks to be a toss-up in the upcoming season, but the goal is always something bigger for Crain and her Pride squad.
“I would like to go to playoffs, if we can, I would love to secure it and not leave it up to chance,” said Crain. “I think the CCC is up in the air for anybody this year, I know Buhach will be strong, but you never know, I think it is up for grabs, see how it turns out, it will be exciting, the CCC never has a dull moment.”
Pitman's first game is the CCC Jamboree at Buhach Colony at a time yet to be determined on Aug. 19.