They say all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately for the Oakdale varsity girls water polo team, their reign as three-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Champions came to end as they fell to Davis Sr. High, 20-5, in the Division I finals on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Earlier in the week, third seeded Oakdale punched their ticket to the finals with a dramatic 11-8 come from behind win over second seeded Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, Nov. 9. The big win featured an Oakdale rally from an 8-6 halftime deficit, scoring five unanswered goals in the second half.
In the semifinal contest on the road at Tokay High School in Lodi, Oakdale took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Clare McKeon with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter. The Lady Mustangs then fell behind 2-1 but Kinsey Ollis tied the game on a late first quarter goal. Emily Bennett scored her first of two goals to tie the game up at three each on a restart following a foul. With nine seconds left sophomore Bethany Metcalfe gave Oakdale a 4-3 advantage after a high pressure goal. Saint Mary’s tied it up at the horn.
Down 5-4 in the second period, Metcalfe found Whitney Lee in the corner and Lee scored on a pump fake to tie the game with 4:13 remaining in the first half. Saint Mary’s would rattle off three straight goals to go up 8-5. Just before the half, Bennett found McKeon for the assist to make it 8-6 at the break.
Early in the third, Bennett showed why she is widely considered the most dominant force in the section as she fought off the defense and the goalie as she scored with two hands in her face and while she was nearly underwater for the first goal of the second half. That brought Oakdale within a goal. Later in the quarter Ollis found the net on back-to-back possessions to take a 9-8 lead.
Oakdale continued to dominate as McKeon scored to start the fourth quarter and Ollis put things away with her fourth goal of the game on a straightaway shot as the shot clock expired with 2:08 remaining in the game.
“We lost to them (Saint Mary’s) earlier in the season, and we wanted to come out here and prove that we were the better team,” said Ollis following the win. “I think we are a special group and we have accomplished so much already.”
Oakdale’s outstanding season finally came to a close in the Section finals at Woodcreek High School on Saturday, Nov. 12.
The Lady Mustangs fell behind 7-2 in the first quarter and were down 14-4 at the break. Bennett scored three goals in her final water polo game with Oakdale but the Davis squad proved to be too much to handle.
“That was a tough loss. We fell behind early and never regrouped,” Bennett said. “To be honest, I wasn’t very emotional. I am not an emotional person anyway, but I just wanted to have fun.”
McKeon and Kassidy Houck were responsible for the other two Lady Mustang goals.
“That was my first Section Finals goal in my four years. So I was very excited about that,” noted McKeon. “It’s not fun to lose, but it is respectable to lose to a great team like Davis.”