The Turlock High girls water polo team aimed to make a statement against Pitman High, and that was to treat its crosstown rival just like any other team — an approach that helped erase all the special circumstances surrounding Tuesday night’s match at the Pitman High pool.
And how did the Bulldogs do that?
They scored the game’s first eight goals en route to a convincing 12-5 rout in front of hundreds of fans surrounding the pool, most decked out in their school colors and, in some cases, face paint. The win gives Turlock a 4-1 record in the Central California Conference, and the Pride slipped to 0-5.
Turlock junior Savanna Schaffer finished with a team-high three goals, and Kristine Groteguth, Michaela Long and Haley Raynes each finished with a pair of scores to overwhelm the young Pride players. Pitman didn’t score its first goal until 1 minute, 38 seconds left in the first half — and that was, in part, thanks to the Bulldogs’ stingy defensive play.
“We wanted to focus on defense, which would lead to steals and counter-attacks and we stuck to that for the first two quarters,” Turlock coach Sonja Raynes said.
The Pride just couldn’t overcome Turlock’s opening-period outburst, which meant a 4-0 early advantage. The Bulldogs entered the second half with an 8-2 advantage, convincing the crowd the game was theirs.
“The first quarter sets the mood for the rest of the game,” Schaffer said. “When you’re down in the first quarter, you’re trying to get back up.”
Instead, the Bulldogs eased up when the fourth period came.
For the Pride, Kamarin Waite stepped up with three goals to go along with Lilli Backstrom’s two and goalkeeper Alexa Benavides stayed busy all night in front of the net and finished with 19 saves. Coach Michaela Solario was pleased with her team’s effort despite the loss at home.
“I’m very proud of our progress,” she said. “Our record doesn’t symbolize what we’re doing, but they’re improving and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.