The coaches’ office at the Steve Feaver Aquatic Center was where the Turlock High girls water polo team met after defeating Merced High 11-8 on Thursday afternoon. A few minutes into the post-match meeting, a strange noise was heard.
The Bulldogs were celebrating.
It sort of spooked the crowd outside that was waiting for the Turlock boys team’s turn to go up against the Bears. The Turlock girls, on the other hand, had a good reason for all the cheering. This was the first time under Sonja Raynes’ four-year tenure that the Bulldogs beat Merced, and the Bulldogs did it with a pesky defense and an offensive attack that produced six different scorers.
The win handed the Bulldogs a 4-0 record in the Central California Conference and command for a league title, while the Bears dropped to 3-1.
Next up for Turlock is the crosstown rivalry meeting with Pitman, as the game starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday with the boys following afterward.
“We feel pretty good about it,” Raynes said about defeating Merced.
The Bears managed to cut the lead to 9-7 with less than two minutes to go, but Turlock fired back with back-to-back goals to seal the win. Madeline Keesey led all scorers with five goals, Jacy Gustafson added two scores and four other Bulldogs (Melinda Johnson, Kristine Groteguth, Haley Raynes and Savanna Schaffer) finished with a goal each.
Raynes said her team’s stingy defense kept Merced from pulling off a comeback victory late in the game.
“We’ve been really working on our defense,” she said. “If something went wrong, we’d cover right away.”
Their defense was something the Bulldogs celebrated after the game.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.