As soon as they got out of the pool for the last time Wednesday afternoon, the Pitman High girls water polo team didn’t just come away with a victory.
It was more than that.
Their 11-5 win over Golden Valley High — which was powered by a persistent defense — gave the Pride a 2-0 Central California Conference record before nearly a week’s worth of practice. And the idea of practice is not a bad thing for the Pitman girls. It is, in fact, welcomed considering that they’re trying to put aside last season’s 0-12 disappointment.
“We don’t talk about that,” said athletic senior center-forward Kristen Arnold, who had a match-leading four goals. But the idea of being 2-0 in the league standings “feels pretty amazing right now,” she admitted.
With the offense jumping out to a 5-0 lead, the victory was secured by a pesky defense— one that didn’t allow a Golden Valley goal until the final minute of the first half. And it didn’t hurt that the Pride’s goalkeeper —Paola Benavides — had a standout game with six saves, many of them requiring her to stretch out her arms and body for highlight reel-worthy moments.
The Pride wanted to control the game by slowing down Golden Valley’s shooters. It worked well enough to the point that the Cougars were turning over the ball several times after not even managing to take an offensive attempt.
“When the clock ran down,” first-year Pride coach Doug Jones said, “it was our turn and we were ready and able.”
The Pride offense, to put it kindly, scored almost at will with junior Kat Galvan finishing with three goals to support Arnold’s performance. The duo also had help from junior Samantha Romeo, who finished with two goals.
After going into the fourth period with a 9-3 lead, the Pride had practically notched their 2-0 league record. At the same time, they don’t like to talk about last season’s winless showing.
“We just focus on this season,” Jones said. “Right now, we’re focused on the next game. I’m very proud of the girls, being that they’re already 2-0. That’s all I’m focused on, not last year.”
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