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Turlock girls polo tops Pitman to remain perfect in league
Turlock girls water polo
Turlock High’s Stella Romeo attempts a steal during Wednesday’s 14-7 win over Pitman High (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

The battle for first place in the Central California Athletic League was on the line Wednesday afternoon when Pitman High’s girls water polo team hosted Turlock High in the most anticipated matchup of the year so far. 

Turlock came out on fire and shutout Pitman in the first, setting the tempo and pace for a game that saw the Pride trying to play catchup, but never quite did, falling in a 14-7 final. 

“We know playing crosstown that it will always be a tough game because we are so mentally prepared and they are as well,” said Turlock head coach Anne Cornell. “Today we were working on our fundamentals, but we know that playing in the crosstown it is a big hype and we don’t want to get overconfident. We make mistakes and they will counter on mistakes and they did.” 

“I think the girls played really well… we gave away a lot of secondary goals, where they would shoot, we would block it and block it out,” said Pitman head coach Michaela Richter. “Offensively, we were a little off to start. Starting up in the second and third quarter we had to step it up and we did it.” 

Pitman snaps a four-game league game winning streak in the process as they go to 4-1 in league and 9-5 overall. 

“Going into the second round of league I have a lot of confidence in the girls, so when we play Turlock at their home, I think it will be a more competitive game,” said Richter. 

Turlock’s winning streak in the CCAL continues as it extends to 15 straight dating back to last year. 

They are now 5-0 in league for the year and 13-3 overall. 

“For us, it is getting better and better and a combination of things helping us out and having to face teams from Clovis as well…We have to keep getting better after every game,” said Cornell.

In the game, things kicked off immediately when Turlock notched five goals in the first quarter to go up 5-0. 

From that point on Pitman was playing catch-up. 

They evened Turlock in goals scored in the second with four, but still found themselves down after the Bulldogs quick flurry to open the game in the first seven minutes made it 9-4 by halftime. 

“They outscored us in the first, so coming back from being down by that much, it is a little harder to make anything happen,” said Richter. “But I think Turlock played a good game and I think they came out and we couldn’t defend them at first. Going into the second we were even, so if you take away that first, then it is a solid game we played back and forth. I can’t take away the first, obviously it happened, but we will prepare for that for the next game.” 

Once they started in the third, Turlock put up four goals to Pitman’s two, then Joelle Lok closed out the third with a goal in the final 10 seconds, making it 13-7 heading into the fourth.

A goal was scored by Turlock in the fourth when Stella Romeo found the back of the net with 3:44 left in the game. 

“They came out and fired away in that second… and that is why you could not let down against them because they started to fight back and scored quickly,” Cornell added. “The timeouts slowed us down and we need to go back to correct the problems. Every now and then you have a game where you make so many mistakes that they will definitely be looking out for that and we just have to minimize those mistakes and improve at each level.” 

“I am confident in my girls’ ability that in the second half of league we will be able to continue building off our momentum and keep doing a good job, and that is my hope,” said Richter. 

Turlock’s next league game will be on the road against Gregori High at 3 p.m. Monday. 

The next game for Pitman will be at home against Modesto High at 3 p.m. Monday.