Oakdale’s defending six-time Valley Oak League champion, and defending three-time CIF Sac-Joaquin Section champion Lady Mustangs entered this season’s water polo playoff tournament as the three seed in Division I. Oakdale hosted the visiting sixth seeded Granite Bay on Friday night. In what was a thrilling first round match, it was Oakdale that came out on top, 8-6, in overtime. The Lady Mustangs move on to the next round today, Nov. 9.
Down 1-0, Kate Mendez scored Oakdale’s first goal with just under four minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Oakdale’s offense went silent the rest of the quarter as Granite Bay took a 2-1 lead to end the first quarter.
Mendez evened the contest at two each on an early second quarter score. Fellow senior teammate Emily Bennett, a four-year varsity starter, scored two late first half goals to give Oakdale a 4-2 advantage at the break. Oakdale’s lead was short lived as Granite Bay came out in the second half scoring three third quarter goals to take a 5-4 lead on Oakdale. With 27 seconds remaining in the quarter, Bennett struck again on a deep goal to tie the game at five each.
In fourth quarter action, the Lady Mustangs would regain the lead on a Kinsey Ollis goal with 3:31 remaining in regulation, putting the host team up, 6-5. Although sophomore goalkeeper Camryn O’Neal fended off 19 shots, Granite Bay tied the game with 22 seconds left in regulation to knot it up at six.
“She (O’Neal) had big shoes to fill this season; she has stepped up and quietly earned the trust of her teammates. She had a great game for us, including a clutch five meter block down the stretch,” coach Diane Kline said of her keeper.
The teams had to head into the overtime and, as she did in regulation, Bennett continued to give Granite Bay fits. She found the net for a game high fourth time with her fourth and final goal coming 50 seconds into the first OT period.
“I think we came out flat tonight, and our communication was nonexistent. We need to work on that moving forward,” Bennett said. “In the second half and in overtime I think we made those adjustments.”
Putting the final nail in the Granite Bay coffin was Oakdale senior Clare McKeon who scored with just over 30 seconds left in the fifth period. A scoreless sixth period resulted in Oakdale’s advancement.
“We did not put away shots when we should have, and did not create as many opportunities early as we had hoped, so this was a nailbiter for sure,” said Kline.
Today, Wednesday Nov. 9 Oakdale heads to Tokay High School to clash with second seed St. Mary’s. The second round action is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
A win there would put Oakdale into the Section final on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Woodcreek High School at 4 p.m.
BOYS WATER POLO
After initially believing they would not make the postseason, the Oakdale water polo boys did get in, entering the playoffs as the 11th seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II action. Oakdale faced off against Oakmont, the sixth seed, on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Oakdale fell behind early as they trailed 2-0 after the first. The Mustangs trailed 3-1 at the break and battled back but fell just short, 6-5. Oakdale scored three goals in the fourth period to push the home team. Scoring goals for the boys were Dakota McNeil with two, and Jackson Metcalfe, Mason Barnes and David Albertoni with one each for Oakdale.
“In all of my four years as a starter on this team, I really do believe this was the most talented team, and we worked as a team all the way to the end,” Metcalfe said. “Our record may not have indicated it or the playoff game, but I firmly believe this was the most talented. We needed to slow things down, and we got flustered early but made a run in the fourth quarter, but came up short.”