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Turlock girls polo battles Pitman for league win
Girls Polo 1
Olivia Salafia of Pitman High attempts a shot during Mondays 9-6 loss to Turlock. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

It's rivalry week for several sports in the Central California Conference, but most notably, was the Turlock and Pitman High varsity girls water polo showdown from the Pride's pool that had both sides and the crowd eager to see the outcome with high stakes early on.

When all was said and done, on a cool and calm Monday night, the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half to emerge victorious over the Pride in their first meeting of the season, 9-6.

“We can't put our shots away. We have had every advantage and have done almost everything right, but we don't put it away; can't do much without points on the board,” said Pitman head coach Erica Crain.

“I thought we played well,” said Turlock head coach Anne Cornell. “We tried to focus on not throwing the ball away and playing smart water polo and today they played as a team as we know we can.”

Turlock improved to 4-2 in the CCC while Pitman fells to 2-4 so far after the first half of league play.

“I think our second half of league will be a little different, I think this was our first growing experience, and I think if we keep it going we will be alright,” said Crain.

The Pride took the first and only lead of the game after Leah Trainor scored the opening goal with 4:08 on the clock in the opening period.

It didn't take long for the 'Dogs to retaliate and add two goals just before the first ended.

Turlock never trailed again, but Olivia Salafia of Pitman tied the game at 2-2 with 6:27 on the clock in the second, before the 'Dogs took over.

“I figured it would be an even matchup because they have three strong players as do we,” said Cornell. “I know they have a great goalie who has been at varsity for four years, so I knew that was tough and we would have to hit the corners or get her off balance to get it in the back of the net.”

Pitman goalkeeper Nellie Screen managed to get half a dozen saves, but Turlock still found the back of the net in the second.

Nicole Groteguth scored two of Turlock's three goals in the second as the Bulldogs went into halftime up 5-3.

“They knew we couldn't make a mistake because every time we made a mistake Pitman would score on us,” said Cornell. “So, we knew that we had to play clean ball, keep our heads and hips up and limit the mistakes.”

Pitman outscored Turlock in the third with goals from Salafia and Trainor, which cut the lead to 6-5 heading into the fourth.

Turlock then went on to outscore Pitman 3-1 in the fourth and final period, earning their fourth league win in six games, while the Pride dropped their third straight.

Pitman will next travel to take on Atwater at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Turlock will host El Capitan at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“We need to play better because we have El Capitan, Buhach and we need to have good ball control and teamwork, we have to keep improving,” Cornell added.