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Turlock girls polo stuns Merced; breaks losing streak
Katie McMillian looks for an open teammate during the second half of Thursdays 10-9 win over Merced.

The losing streak is snapped.

The Turlock High lady Bulldogs came out ready to play on Thursday when they hosted Merced for their penultimate Central California Conference water polo match.

Sarah Phillips, Karissa Roof and Hannah Groteguth each finished the game with a hat-trick as well as playing a pivotal role in the game from start to finish for the Bulldogs.

Merced went up early on Turlock with the help of Kathryn Elgin to take a two goal lead after the first period and up one goal after the third at 7-6.

The lady Bulldogs were not done, however, and they went on to outscore Merced 4-2 in the fourth to take the 10-9 win.

“We were working really hard for this game because it solidified our standings and we wanted to come back and it’s in our home pool and undefeated. We are really excited,” said Roof.

The win also snaps the Bulldogs losing streak to Merced since the 2010 season, which is the last time the Turlock girls beat Merced.

“It was very important because I have never beaten Merced in my high school career and the last time it happened was when my sister played, so I felt I needed to do it because it is my senior year,” said Groteguth. “So I wanted to go out with a bang.”

They did just that and finished the game better than how they started.

The win also marks the team’s 6-2 CCC record thus far, comfortably sitting in second place, two positions ahead of Merced after the victory.

“This was a super important victory because it secured our second spot in CCC,” said Phillips. “We did it because of teamwork and we all came into the game knowing the importance of the game at our house and we got it done together as a team.”

Down a goal heading into the fourth, Turlock’s resurgence was evident and apparent with the help of Phillips, Groteguth and Roof who were involved in nearly every play.

Near the end Groteguth began to really press Merced’s Elgin, forcing their offense to take uncomfortable shots.

Eventually the Turlock defense really contained Merced from any attacks in the final period and it was Caitlin Cornell who sunk the game tying goal with 4:30 left in regulation to tie the game at 7-7.

Groteguth, Roof and Phillips finished the game off for Turlock as they each drained the team’s final three goals.

“We had key steals and that is what saved us. Hannah helped us out as well and frustrated their set and missed balls. But it always helps that we played them before as well,” said Turlock head coach Sonja Raynes. “We worked on defense a lot and the girls were ready to battle.”

The next game for Turlock will be their final, at home against Pitman at 4 p.m. Thursday.