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Bulldog girls clinch final playoff spot, despite falling to Pride in season finale
Pitmans defense was the staple of Wednesdays win over Turlock as they forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over in the final three possessions as they won it 8-7. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

The Turlock High varsity girls water polo team thought they needed a win in their season finale to secure the third and final postseason spot in the Central California Conference.

Pitman was down a game to Turlock at 5-6, and with a win, could tie Turlock for the third spot, however, the tiebreaker was given to the Bulldogs despite the outcome of Wednesday's game.

The Pride hosted the Bulldogs on senior night Wednesday and carried the hype from the player announcements, to the national anthem and well into the game from beginning to end in a wild nail biter that ended in the Prides' favor, 8-7.

“My girls knew they had to win and knew they had to do what I asked and they realized that if they didn't do that than they would lose and they were excited and not nervous,” said Pitman head coach Erica Crain. “They were ready and that's how they played.”

“I respect Erica as a coach, she is a good coach and she knows what she is talking about,” said Turlock head coach Sonja Raynes. “I thought our girls were ready to play, doing many things to get ready but near the end we had bad passes, it didn't go our way, so there is nothing if you can't get the pass down.”

Turlock turned the ball over in the final three possessions as the Pride just managed to power through in the end and hold off the Bulldog attack to even the season series at 1-1.

Both teams finish with a league record of 6-6 in the CCC.

“I told our girls to show up, be ready to play, don't be scared, don't be nervous,” said Crain. “If something bad happens, don't freak out and quit, get it back.”

Karissa Roof of Turlock opened up the game with the first goal of the game with 4:27 left on the clock in the first quarter.

The Pride fought back to go up 3-2 in the second quarter, just before Allison Serratos and Roof both notched a goal apiece to go ahead 4-3 by halftime.

“Credit to them, it made us have to work harder and it’s to their credit,” said Raynes.

Pitman went on a 4-2 run in the third quarter led by Samantha Guerino's three of four goals scored for the game.

Roof, who tallied a game-high five goals, came into the fourth quarter with a fury and nailed the goal to tie it with just over six minutes left in the game.

Guerino responded with 2:57 left in the game to put the Pride up 8-7 and from there, it was up to the defense to fend off the Bulldogs' attack, which they managed to do persistently into the closing seconds.

“They hit some great goals but at the same time, you have to be patient when pressing. This kinda makes or breaks you, next year, the returners should be more ready in pressure situations,” Raynes added.

Turlock finished with 13 turnovers for the game and added 16 steals as a team. Serratos added a pair of assists and a goal and Lily Odey also added a goal.

“Even if we were down or tied and they stepped up, couldn't be happier,” Crain added. “With the group of nine girls I have, they worked hard every day and did what I asked and they got a top three which is pretty good for them. I have them all coming back basically so next year we will be even better.”

Turlock moves on to the playoffs and will take on an opponent yet to be determined in the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.