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Mustang Girls Begin Water Polo Playoffs Saturday
1031 WPolo Seniors
Oakdale High senior boys and girls are all smiles during Senior Night in the Mustang pool earlier this season. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

A 9-5 victory over Sonora High on Oct. 24 clinched a third straight undefeated conference championship for Oakdale’s girls water polo team, which now has Capital Valley Conference No. 3 seed Del Campo on their radar in the first round of the postseason.

Oakdale will tackle Del Campo at 1 p.m. in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs on Saturday at Whitney High.

The Lady Mustangs are on opposite side of the bracket as Capital Athletic League champion, Rio Americano, leaving Oakdale with a mythical No. 2 in the 16-team seeded bracket with seven conferences represented.

It’s similar to the six-league, 16-team bracket that Oakdale finished second in last year, though 2011 SJS champ (Del Oro) is now in Division I with the rest of the Sierra Foothill League and the Valley Foothill League split to form the Valley Oak League (which Oakdale won this year) and the Western Athletic Conference. The Monticello Empire League is also a new addition to the D-II bracket.

If Oakdale gets past Del Campo, the team will see either WAC champion, Los Banos, or Metropolitan Conference No. 2 seed El Dorado in the next round.

Aside from Oakdale, the teams on Oakdale’s half of the bracket were a combined 2-4 in the postseason last year. None of them made semifinal appearances. The other half of the bracket includes the Rio Americano team Oakdale beat in overtime in last year’s SJS semifinal and Metro champ McClatchy, who fell to Del Oro in the other semifinal. Rio has beaten Oakdale twice in nonleague play this year, handing the Mustangs a few rare blemishes in a 20-5 overall stanza.

“We are really pleased with our placement in playoffs,” Oakdale coach Diane Kline said. “We have a good chance of meeting Rio in the finals.”

Oakdale stayed perfect in league after five goals from Shelby Stender during the win over Sonora. Cassie Lee added two goals while Vikki Swarthout and Katie Vanderburg each found the net.

The team went on to best Merced 12-7 and Lodi 9-3 during weekend play. Stender had seven scores across the two games while Swarthout (five), Lee (five), Emily Stolken (two), Katie Vanderburg and Aleksaandra Courtney all found the net.

The Oakdale boys missed an opportunity to force a coin-flip for the second and final postseason seed after a devastating 14-7 loss to Sonora. Adam Lahey, Ben Kirby and Jared Kahler managed two goals each while Chase Cunha found the net once.