Playing in their fifth consecutive CIF Sac-Joaquin Division II Girls Water Polo Section Championship game, the Oakdale Lady Mustangs knocked off Del Oro 5-4 on Saturday to win their third consecutive blue banner.
Oakdale, the three seed in the tournament, got past two seeded Vintage in the semi-finals 6-4 on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to advance to the finals at Woodcreek High School in Roseville on Saturday, Nov. 14.
In the Tuesday game, Oakdale’s Kate Mendes scored the first goal for her team in the semi-final matchup with 3:55 remaining in the first period. Emily Bennett scored the second goal minutes later to make the Lady Mustangs lead 2-0 in the first period. Vintage found the net twice in the second period to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the break. Clare McKeon broke the tie on a goal with an assist from Bennett to give Oakdale a 3-2 advantage. Minutes later, Mendes scored two goals to give Oakdale a 5-2 lead in the third. Vintage scored a goal on a penalty shot to bring the score to 5-3 late in the third. Kate Allan scored Oakdale’s final goal in the fourth quarter thanks to an assist from Bennett to help propel the Lady Mustangs back to the CIF Section finals.
“Kate (Mendes) had the game of her life. Very proud of her and the rest of the girls,” said head coach Diane Kline following the victory.
In a rematch of the 2011 Section Finals, where Del Oro won 10-7, it would be the Lady Mustangs to emerge out of the water as champions in 2015. Action picked up in the final seconds of the first period when Del Oro scored first with 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Bennett answered with a goal of her own to tie it up, but the Golden Eagles regained the lead with a quick strike of their own.
Allan took over for the Lady Mustangs as the senior scored back-to-back goals to take a 3-2 lead at the break. Bennett scored the only goal of the third quarter for either side giving Oakdale a 4-2 lead after three quarters. The final seven minutes turned into a shootout as the Golden Eagles found the net with 5:13 left in the game. However, two minutes later Bennett found the net for the third time to give Oakdale a 5-3 cushion. Del Oro got their final goal of the game with 2:18 remaining in the game. Oakdale’s goalkeeper, UC Davis-bound Caitlin Golding buckled down and blocked the Golden Eagles final attempts to tie the game. The 2015 season will go down as a special one for the Lady Mustangs as they won their sixth straight Valley Oak League title and their third straight Section championship.