The two-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Champion girls water polo team is looking for a three peat, and are one step closer. After winning their sixth straight Valley Oak League title, the Lady Mustangs entered the 2015-2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section girls’ water polo tournament as the three seed. The first obstacle in the Lady Mustangs way was the sixth seeded Golden Valley Cougars.
Oakdale leaped out to a quick 4-0 advantage in the first quarter and never slowed down in their 11-4 victory at the Johansen High School Aquatics Facility on Thursday, Nov. 5.
Emily Bennett got things started for Oakdale, scoring the first goal of the game just 1:16 into the game. The goal came on a pass from teammate Kate Allan. Kinsey Ollis followed up with a goal of her own less than 30 seconds later for a quick 2-0 Lady Mustang lead. Bennett showed off her passing ability and awareness as she found teammates Whitney Lee and Clare McKeon, setting up Oakdale’s next two goals. Up 4-0 Golden Valley took advantage of an empty net, as Marissa Wyan tossed it into the net for the score. It was Golden Valley’s only score of the half.
Bennett scored Oakdale’s next two goals, the only two goals of the second quarter giving Oakdale a 6-1 lead at the break.
Golden Valley wasted little time after the break as Ann Neufeld scored a goal 47 seconds into the third quarter. Oakdale answered with 3-0 run thanks to goals by McKeon, Ollis and Allan to give the Lady Mustangs a 9-2 advantage with 2:44 remaining in the third. The Cougars stopped the bleeding on Neufeld’s second goal of the game with 2:37 left in the third, giving Oakdale an 11-3 advantage. Oakdale bounced back with goals by McKeon and Bennett. McKeon finished with three goals and Bennett with four goals and three assists.
Oakdale’s senior goalkeeper Caitlin Golding stopped over a dozen attempts on the night.
“We were very determined heading into today, and moving forward into the tournament. We want to remind everyone that we are coming for a third title. Everyone wants to keep playing. It’s going to take a lot of determination by us to achieve a third banner,” said Golding.
Oakdale’s journey continued on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Johansen High School when they took on the second seed Vintage after press time for The Leader. Oakdale previously fell to Vintage 8-4 on Oct. 24.
“The next couple of days, we will have to practice the things that caught us off guard last time we faced Vintage,” head coach Diane Kline said of using the time in between matches to prepare. “We had a few mistakes last time and we need to correct them when we play them again.”
If Oakdale advanced, they would meet either top seeded St. Mary’s or fourth seeded Del Oro for the Section Championship on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Woodcreek High School. Game time is slated for 1 p.m.