The Mustangs entered the 2015-2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III boys Water Polo Championships as the number seven seed. Oakdale defeated Bear River 10-8 on Wednesday, Nov. 4 but took an exit from tournament play with a 7-4 loss to second-seeded El Capitan on Friday night, Nov. 6.
Oakdale played “host” to tenth seeded Bear River in the first round. But with both the OHS Aquatic Center and Oakdale’s Plunge out of commission, Oakdale hosted the match at the aquatics facility at Johansen High School in Modesto.
“It is a distraction with the uncertainty of where we get to play under the circumstances. However, once we hit the pool deck and get ready to play, it’s business as usual for us. We are familiar with this pool, so that helped us out,” said head coach Brian Kline about having given up a home game.
Down 1-0 just 53 seconds into the match, Oakdale answered with a 4-0 run that was led by senior Jared Kahler’s back-to-back goals late in the first quarter. Oakdale’s David Albertoni and Spencer Lee accounted for the other two scores in that time span. Oakdale and Bear River exchanged goals in the second quarter as both teams scored three goals in the seven minute time frame. Jackson Metcalfe, Lee and Kahler accounted for the Mustang goals in the second quarter giving Oakdale a 6-4 halftime lead.
Kahler took over in the second half, as he scored the only goals of the third quarter for either side, both on assists from Nate Van Cleave as Oakdale’s advantage grew to 8-4 entering the final frame. The Mustangs survived Bear River’s rally as the Bruins scored two fast goals, both by Nathan Thompson within the first two minutes of the quarter. Kahler scored his sixth and final goal of the game with 4:28 left to play. With Oakdale clinging to a 9-7 lead, Albertoni found the back of the net off a pass from Van Cleave to give the Mustangs a three goal lead with less than four minutes remaining. Thompson and the Bruins got on the board 36 seconds later to close the gap to 10-8. The Mustangs played tough defense throughout the rest of the game to advance to the second round.
“I had great passes from Nate (Van Cleave) and everybody got involved today. As a senior, you don’t want to lose. It feels great to advance, but it was really a team effort today,” said Kahler.
The playoff run, however, ended with the loss to the higher seeded El Capitan team on the road Friday.