Fresh off a two goal loss to Sonora on Tuesday, the Pitman High boys’ water polo team made an uncanny start on Wednesday afternoon in the team's home season opener against Johansen, but luckily it didn't end the way it began.
The Pride gradually eased their way into the contest after a tight 2-2 game once the first period concluded. Then, before the first half came to an end, Caden Jarvis notched a goal in the closing seconds to go up 6-5 and then it was game as the Pride rallied to win the contest 13-7.
“We played tough. We were slow in the first half but mentally tuned since we came off that tough game against Sonora,” said Pitman senior Josh Buck. “But in the second we realized we were the better team and we got mentally ready and came out ready.”
“I thought we did certain things well and other things we have to work on. I think we started really slow. I don't know if they were tired from last night,” said Pitman head coach Ryan Bullard. “Luckily in the second half we pulled away with our attacking.”
The Pride played a heads up game in the second, anchored by Buck and goalkeeper Brent Davis, who started in the second half, after sitting out in the first due to a shoulder injury.
Davis and his team were sitting with a one goal lead when the third period started, but then Jarvis came out and fired away a flawless shot from deep, about five feet from the halfway mark and it skidded the top right corner to take the two goal lead at 7-5.
“Even though we did not get home till 9:45 the previous night we still were able to move the ball around, but we still need to finish all of our open shots,” Bullard said. “After the lethargic start we were able to settle down.”
About two minutes later Dom Wells notched a score and Josh Hamby scored his only goal to close out the third before Davis made a diving save as the minutes hit zero.
“Even though I got hurt, the adrenaline gets to me. I did not need to think about anything, everything just happens,” said Davis.
Davis eventually notched eight saves in the second half alone, and allowed only two goals.
Buck, who was consistent on the defensive side and provoked the Vikings to struggle, struck his assist of the game on a deep heave to teammate Ulises Ibarra, who then hit a laser shot at the bottom left corner. After Buck’s goal the game had only two minutes left and the defense held on.
“I told the team to remember the fundamentals and basics. That ended up helping us out and we relaxed and realized we are the better team. Just glad we came out on top,” Buck added.
“I was hoping they would pick up the intensity,” Bullard added. “I don't think it was one thing I said. It was the team because they are a special bunch doing a lot for themselves, talking and encouraging and sometimes yelling at each other, but always doing it in a positive way because they want to grow from it.”