Turlock and Pitman boys water polo teams met on Thursday night at Pitman High for one final Central California Conference showdown.
Things started off much like the first time, with Turlock on fire, but Pitman battled its way back to force the game into overtime. However, the Pride's fire wasn't enough to carry through and Turlock took the 16-14 victory.
“We knew this was going to be a close game, these rivalry games are always close,” Turlock boys head coach Nick Serratos said. “My boys stayed composed throughout the whole game and didn't let the emotions of the game get to them.”
“I think we ended the season breaking that stigma and matching with these teams, despite the tough first half of the season,” said Pitman boys head coach Ryan Bullard. “My thought is we kind of had to break that at some point in order to get going. I think we are much better than how the record shows.”
Pitman finished the year with a 3-7 CCC record while Turlock ended the year 7-3, along with a postseason berth.
“It's a huge accomplishment for these boys to make the postseason after missing it the last two years,” Serratos said. “I would say the reason I had so much success in my first year as varsity coach is that it is my third year coaching this group and they have really bought into everything I have been preaching and rise to the occasion no matter the situation.”
The Bulldogs and Pride battled it out for the entire game, and by the end of the first half, the ‘Dogs were up by one, 7-6.
The Pride retaliated with a 4-1 run early on in the third quarter but by the end, the ‘Dogs had tied it at 10 apiece.
“It was pretty much neck and neck the entire game going into that fourth period,” Bullard said. “I know our success came late, but I know these kids are starting to realize they will be good next season.”
Pitman went up with seconds to go in the fourth, but Turlock freshman Dylan Bernardi scored the game-tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation to make it 13 each and send the game into overtime.
Turlock then went on a 3-1 run in OT and the game was set.
“In overtime we were finally able to capitalize on their mistakes, on opportunities we missed earlier in the game,” Serratos said. “I'm extremely impressed with Dylan and how he stepped up in the biggest moment of his young career. He was one of our four boys with a hat trick.”
Jakob Bradley, Zach Glidden and Jared Bernardi each ended the game with three goals each.
Pitman’s top scorer for the night was Allan Quinn, who finished the contest with seven goals and Alex Selee topped out with three. Riley Silva added on two goals.