For the Pitman High boys water polo team, this doesn’t happen often.
The Pride players and coaches are cherishing every moment, as they’re experiencing one of their best seasons in school history. For just the third time ever, they’re making the playoffs.
How impressive have they been?
Sure, they still live in the shadow of Turlock High and coach Steve Feaver, but that common sports metaphor isn’t that wide and dark this season. The Pride, for all intents and purposes, are holding their own.
Pitman is 7-2 in the Central California Conference, has secured the second of three spots in the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament and days away from possibly spoiling Turlock’s perfect season in what could be Feaver’s final home match.
That crosstown rivalry meeting is set for next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Turlock High’s Steve Feaver Aquatic Center.
“Our approach is to play our game and no one else’s,” said coach Drew Clute, whose Pride controlled the match before losing 8-5 to the Bulldogs on Oct. 4. “I was very happy with the way we played Turlock in the first game. We created advantages for us throughout the game, just failed to make them pay off in the way of goals.”
Though the Bulldogs have won back-to-back outright league champions after blowing out Merced High last Thursday, the Pride have a chance to be spoilers. The Bulldogs are 9-0, one win from a perfect season.
“This game has a lot riding on it for them,” Clute said of the Bulldogs. “They’re trying to go for the undefeated league title and to get a win in what might possibly be coach Feaver’s last home game.”
Feaver, who’s responsible for bringing the sport of water polo to Turlock, has said he’s coaching on a year-to-year basis after retiring from teaching. His team knows a big, tough challenge comes next Thursday night against Pitman.
Last Thursday, the Pride easily handled Buhach Colony High with a 15-1 win after another rare win over always tough Merced High on Tuesday.
The Pride also went 1-1 with an 8-2 win over Vintage High on Friday at the DeLong Invitational. They continue tournament action today with a 9:30 a.m. match against Lodi High at Johansen High.
Pitman has been effective with explosive scoring from Quinten Day, Tyler Jamieson and Beau Powell, who all can notch four to five goals a game. Day had five goals against Merced on Tuesday.
“When the opportunities to score are there,” Clute added, “our guys have the confidence to score the ball. However, when the extra pass is needed to set a teammate up, they have faith in each other to do so. With that kind of offensive balance, coupled with good team defense and a senior goalkeeper (Zach Hazelwood) we all have faith in, we can honestly say that each time we jump in the pool, we feel we can win.”
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