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Bulldog boys end polo season with quarterfinals loss
water polo
Cohen Harris aims for a goal during the Bulldogs’ victory over Lincoln High last Wednesday. The Bulldogs dropped the quarterfinal game to Davis High Friday. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

The Turlock High varsity boys water polo team may have suffered a playoff loss last week which brought their season to a close, but the Central California Athletic League champions are still savoring a successful season nonetheless.

“It was a great season, especially coming out of COVID, to get back on the right track,” head coach Nic Serratos said. “We’d love to go further in sections, but I think the boys played amazing and I’m proud of how they showed up and stepped out.”

According to Serratos, the consistently competitive Turlock team has made playoffs in every season since 2015 and has won league the last four years. They went 10-0 in league this season to once again take the CCAL crown.

“It’s our goal every year to be one of those two playoff teams, and to win league the last four years is just icing on the cake,” he said.

Before falling in the quarterfinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Division I playoffs on Friday, the Bulldogs were victorious in last Wednesday’s opening round when they beat Lincoln High 8-4. They had played Lincoln a few weeks prior during a non-league tournament and lost 11-10, though Turlock was missing some of its key players at the time.

With the roster at full-strength on Nov. 3, the Bulldogs rode a second-half shutout to an opening round victory.

“It was a strong defensive performance. It was cool to see them lock in on defense,” Serratos said. “[Lincoln] had a really, really tough goalie, so he kept it closer than the scoreboard showed. It was a full team effort.”

water polo
Evan Johns fights off a Lincoln defender during Turlock’s opening round playoff victory. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

On Friday, Turlock faced a challenge in Davis High and lost 13-3. Serratos said the Blue Devils were just a step quicker than the Bulldog and a bit larger, giving Turlock a test once they hopped into the pool. Davis had previously scored an upwards of 20 goals against other teams in the section, so Serratos was once again proud of the Bulldogs’ defensive effort to hold the Blue Devils to just 13 points on the night.

“We played really tough,” he said. “We just didn’t really put our shots away. We had really good scoring opportunities, but they had a stellar goalie that kept them in the lead.”

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs have plenty to celebrate as several players received CCAL recognition. Sean McMillan earned league MVP, while Evan Johns was named Defensive Player of the Year. Luke Thomas and Cohen Harris were named First Team All-League and Anthony Gutierrez was named Second Team.