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Bulldogs polo squads complete sweep of crosstown rival Pitman
Turlock girls water polo
The THS varsity girls water polo team celebrate their win against Pitman on Friday. It was the first of two varsity wins on the day for the Bulldogs' varsity polo squads (Photo contributed).

Monday marked the first time in the 2022 season that the Turlock and Pitman water polo teams faced off against one another. In front of a vibrant home crowd decked out in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Bulldogs’ varsity girls and boys teams each put on offensive explosions enroute to sweeping the Pride in both matches.

In the girls match, the Bulldogs came out of the gates firing, scoring five straight goals within the first three minutes, including two from Bonnie Hayes. Eventually, with three minutes left in the opening quarter, the Pride got on the board via a goal from Heidi Lancaster. Following the Pitman goal, Turlock went right back to work, scoring another five goals in the quarter to make it 10-1. After just one quarter, Turlock’s Lia Romeo had already achieved a hat trick.

While the opening quarter was a scoring frenzy, the second quarter was more of a defensive struggle for both teams. After seven minutes, the Pride were able to cut the deficit to 10-3 after Alyssa Rivas scored two goals.

Nevertheless, the Bulldogs would wind up pulling away after halftime, scoring six unanswered goals in the third quarter, including three from Jasmine Hanson.

The final score was 19-4 in favor of the Bulldogs. In addition to Lia Romeo and Hanson, three other Bulldogs (Hayes, Livia Romeo and Emily Weiglein) also achieved hat tricks.

The Turlock varsity girls now have an overall season record of 8-1 and remain undefeated at 4-0 in CCAL play.

Over in the boys match, Turlock once again kicked off the scoring as Cohen Harris put away two goals within the first five minutes. Just seconds after Harris’ second goal, the Pride answered right back with a goal from Karson Valenti. The Bulldogs responded right back just before the end of the quarter with a goal from Sam Stempson.

In the second quarter, the Bulldogs pulled away from the crosstown rivals, scoring 10 unanswered goals, including four more from Harris. Heading into halftime, Turlock led by a score of 13-1. The Bulldog scoring avalanche continued in the third quarter as they scored four more unanswered goals, including two from Stempson and one more from Harris.

Pitman regained some ground in the fourth quarter when Karson Valenti scored again and Chase Valenti scored two more before the final horn blew. After it was all said and done, the deficit was too big for Pitman as they fell by a score of 22-4.

For Turlock, Harris led all players with seven goals. His teammate, Luke Thomas, was the second leading scorer with five goals.

Turlock boys water polo
Turlock High's Cohen Harris led all players with 7 goals on Monday night as the Bulldogs water polo teams capped off a sweep of the Pitman Pride (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Turlock head coach Nic Serratos praised the offensive play of Harris after the game.

“He’s been lighting it up this year. He’s really put in a lot of time in the offseason… it’s all just a testament to the hard work he’s been putting in,” Serratos said.

Harris explained that, while Turlock and Pitman are rivals, there is still plenty of respect shared between all four water polo squads.

“They’re all our friends, we play club [water polo] with all of them, but we still have to take it seriously,” Harris said. “We treated it as any other game. We came out strong. We want to compete and we want to win.”

Serratos also spoke highly of how his team is able to distribute the ball and step up to score regardless of the situation.

“We have a really dynamic offense with guys who can score at any time. We don’t really have a deep bench, but everybody gets a lot of minutes and steps up in the moment. We knew Pitman was going to give us a hard time in that first quarter, so we just tried to shuffle the lines as much as possible and stay fresh and ready,” he said.

The varsity boys squad now stand at 12-2 overall in the 2022 season. And like the girls, they are an undefeated 4-0 in league play.

With the two big wins secured, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to Gregori on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Pride will have the rest of the week off and have their turn at Gregori on Monday.