Water Polo: Oak Ridge in the playoffs
Last Wednesday’s big showdown between visiting Ponderosa at Oak Ridge for two water polo matches determined which teams would advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
The Trojan boys toppled the Bruins 16-8 with a huge fourth quarter after trading leads throughout the first three quarters.
“Our counterattack played really well today and we got a lot of fast breaks and easy opportunities in the fourth quarter to help us pull away,” Troy coach Patrick Foster said.
The Lady Trojans led the girls match from the start and at the final buzzer they emerged with a 16-6 win.
“Oak Ridge came out and outplayed us from start to finish. I’m really proud of how our girls played and wish Oak Ridge the best in sectionals,” Bruin coach Alan Miller said.
There was a definite sense of urgency in the boys match. Ponderosa jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind two early goals from Graham McClone and Connor Grubaugh, but Troy’s Garrison Yeandle got the home team on the board with 22 seconds left in the quarter.
The teams traded goals in the second period and went into halftime tied 5-5. Oak Ridge took its first lead early in the third but Ty Pensa and McClone answered for Ponderosa. Troy’s Jeremy Levine put a point on the board and the Trojans pulled ahead 9-7 on two sizzling strikes from Bryan Cole.
“We made some great plays as a team in the third to give us confidence leading into the fourth,” Levine said.
It was all Oak Ridge in the last quarter. The Trojans took control and coasted to victory behind Trevor Dong’s two fastbreak goals and single goals from Yeandle, Bryan Bare, Cole and Joshua Verner. McClone scored one for Ponderosa.
“We got out of our game and started watching instead of playing, which a great team like Oak Ridge took advantage of,” Miller said.
Amanda Jones, the Trojan senior featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd, started the girls match with a spinning shot past Bruin goalie Leigh Thomas.
“I really liked how we played as a team and when someone was double-teamed we found the open man,” Jones said.
Kirsten Banks-Gwartney and Ashley Ulrich added Trojan goals, answered by one from Ponderosa’s Heidi Hill. The Bruins trailed by two at the end of a quarter.
Banks-Gwartney’s goal opened the second period, followed quickly by Bruin Ellie Miller’s goal, but the Trojans exteneded their lead behind Annie Harriman’s two goals. Jones and Hill each added a goal to send the teams into halftime with Oak Ridge up 7-3.
Stephanie Polivka’s rainbow over Thomas into the cage started the third; Banks-Gwartney and Harriman added a goal apiece and Jones put in two more to up the Trojans’ lead to 12-3 going into the fourth quarter.
Jones’ shot just evaded a diving Thomas to start the fourth. Hannah Hill and Heidi Hill both scored for the Bruins but after Jones added two more for Troy, the outcome was decided.
“We’ve worked hard the past two months for this game, and it was a great team effort against a great Pondo team,” coach Don McCormick said.