The Turlock High girls’ water polo squad has been dominant in the pool for most of this season, but they were silenced Thursday night when they were upset by Pitman in their final game, 9-6.
Pitman, who struggled in the first half of the season, managed to top Turlock this time around after a very stout performance from the defense and offense.
Turlock found it very difficult to play their style despite taking numerous shots and Pitman’s defense was playing unlike they had all year long.
Pitman’s aggressiveness and relentless attack helped secure the win over a depleted Turlock team that was missing two key players, including their goalkeeper.
“We were down two key players in key positions. We had to switch roles around and play different players in only two days notice so we had to do it on this level, not easy to do,” said Turlock head coach Sonja Raynes. “We needed more experience, but still we played ball and did what we had to.”
“We put everything together and adjusted well and going from one point to the next and that is all it takes,” said Pitman head coach Erica Crain. “We played as a team. It has taken time, but they did it and that is what won it. They were not playing individually but as a team and it was the difference from the first time we played them.”
It also helped that Turlock had one of their stronger attackers in Hannah Groteguth playing goalie, which she had not done all year long.
Katie McMillian played keeper for most of the second half but Pitman found a way to ease their way into the net, leading 5-3 by halftime.
Samantha Guerino scored a goal with 4:55 left in the third, taking a 6-3 , which was followed by a Jordyn Kennell goal and by the end of the third Pitman had a two-goal lead, 7-5.
Pitman outscored Turlock 2-1 in the fourth and final period of play and held them from scoring again, eventually ending the game with a three-goal win and Pitman’s sixth league win of the year.
“Playoffs are still a possibility because we are tied with Merced, so we will see what happens and how the committee decides to choose if we make it or not,” said Crain.
Pitman ends the year with a 6-4 record in the CCC, including a 4-1 second half record.
“The girls came back in the second half of the season and that is all I asked for—can’t take that away from them,” said Crain. “We were learning something new every day and that kept them excited to come back and instead of letting down they have done everything I asked them and beyond so I’m happy.”
Turlock ends the season at 7-3, which is second in the CCC. The Bulldogs also clinched a playoff berth next week against an opponent yet to be determined at a time yet decided.
“Not everyone had played these positions they did today,” Raynes added. “That was tough on the girls but they battled and stepped up, willing to do new things and new positions so we will see how the playoffs result for us.”