Make the postseason in the first year as the head coach, check.
For first year head coach, Nick Serratos of Turlock High, it signaled the end of a two-year playoff drought for the boys’ water polo squad after ending the year in the postseason.
Unfortunately, in the first round of the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, the Bulldogs of Turlock met their match in St. Mary's of Stockton, who came out and dominated the 'Dogs from the get-go on Friday morning and came out victors after a big 17-8 deficit for Turlock at Johansen High.
“Our early goals are what fed our game early on, so I was happy with how the boys played. They were ecstatic to play and happy to win,” said St. Mary's head coach Shane Mahoney.
“They [St. Mary's] are a good team. Coming into the season, I picked them to win sections, they are definitely a favorite in the area,” said Serratos. “My boys played good but with a team like that if you make mistakes in the first half you're not going to be able to get back in the game.”
That is exactly what happened for the 'Dogs.
They failed to find the back of the net early on as back-to-back shots from the Turlock offense clanked off the bars and two turnovers early on led to the Rams quick counter attacks.
“We knew if we played good and tight defense like we did in the early part of the game it would lead for great counter attacks for us,” Mahoney said.
With about three minutes left in the first quarter St. Mary's had taken a 4-0 lead as they were really becoming a problem for the Turlock team defensively and by the end of the first, the score read seven-nil.
“Just nerves, bad passes in the first quarter, it should've been 5-3,” Serratos said about the slow start. “We barred out and turned the ball over and if we put up at least two at that point, it’s a completely different game in the first half.”
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs the jitters would not necessarily go away in the second, after the Rams ended the first half with a 5-0 run to take a 12-0 lead.
The Bulldogs would need a big move heading into the half but by then it seemed too late against a talented team like St. Mary's.
“We know that the CCC is a good league so taking second in the CCC we came in respecting that and we knew that they would give us tough competition early on but we were fortunate to start off so hot,” Mahoney said.
Despite outscoring the Rams, 8-5 in the second half and 4-2 in the third quarter, the offense, which already had a tough time scoring for the most part, just couldn't rebuttal soon enough and the Rams held on for the win.
In his first year as the head coach for Turlock, Serratos led his squad to an 18-10 season, 7-3 in the CCC and ultimately helped his team reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
“It was a very successful year. First games we had a couple first game jitters went 1-2 to start the season and then things started clicking and we went on a winning streak,” he said. “That really got our stride late in the year. We peaked at the right time but next year we will be ready and come out strong.”
“Next year I am not worrying about this tough loss anymore. We are winning league next year.”
Bold statement from the first year man at Turlock High.