Monday's heavily anticipated Central California Conference matchup between Turlock (3-3) and Pitman's (3-3) varsity girls water polo lived up to the hype after a very aggressive and close game that boiled down to the final minutes.
With the clock a factor and Pitman down by three goals with less than five minutes remaining, they decided to push the pace and ultimately came within one goal at 11-10 just before Turlock's Lily Odey lobbed a score over the goalkeeper's head with 31 seconds left as the final read 12-10.
“We got players kicked out. I threw my best players on my bench in the third quarter and with that, they were done for the game,” said Pitman head coach Erica Crain. “That has never happened to me. There was some calls I disagreed with but only so much my girls could do when we were limited.”
Turlock went on to take full advantage of the opportunity and converted.
“It was a matter of teamwork and running some plays,” said Turlock head coach Sonja Raynes. “We noticed they were calling kickouts so we had to drive and got them into foul trouble and it helped us, so two of their better girls got three kickouts so they didn't have them anymore. So we kept driving to try and earn those kickouts just wished we were better shooting those, but it was good enough.”
A kickout is a common major foul that occurs when a defensive player holds, sinks or pulls back an offensive player that is not holding the ball. Most major fouls result in the player being excluded for 20 seconds, causing his/her team to be temporarily down a player.
If a player commits three major fouls, they must sit out the remainder of the game.
Pitman, at full strength, took over early in the first quarter with a 3-0 lead, but Turlock retaliated and went on to outscore the Pride 7-3 heading into halftime with a one goal lead at 7-6.
Turlock led 10-8 heading into the fourth and went up 11-8 right at the 5:22 mark.
“We put pressure on their defense and it was the strategy to switch so we don't get anyone kicked out and get out of our comfort zone and it worked out for us,” said Raynes.
By this point, a timeout was called and Pitman came out firing away, scoring two goals, eventually making it 11-10 with 1:50 remaining in the game.
Pitman turned the ball over with 1:03 left and Turlock went on to juice out the clock out until with 31 seconds left, Odey was on the top corner and lobbed the farthest goal of the match to give Turlock a two-goal lead and the victory.
With the loss, Pitman falls to 3-3 in the CCC, and has now lost back-to-back league contests after starting 3-1.
“I feel confident and I just think, we need to do what we do and play our game and we should be fine,” Crain added. “We will come out Wednesday and keep it going.”
Turlock improves to 3-3 in league and are tied with Pitman.
Turlock's Karissa Roof tallied a team-high five goals and added three assists and a pair of steals. Allison Serratos had three goals and seven steals, while Caitlin Cornell added a goal, an assist and two steals.
Pitman's Sophie Guerino finished with two goals for the Pride. Sam Guerino had three goals while Gaby Sotomayor and Leah Trainer added a goal. Olivia Salafia had a pair of goals.