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Water Polo Squads Split Contests Against Ripon
1009 Leach
Oakdales Taylor Leach tries to palm off a shot while surrounded by Ripon defenders during the Mustangs 16-3 home loss to the Indians. - photo by Nicholas Hopping/The Leader

Oakdale’s women’s water polo team improved to 11-2, 2-0 in league play with a 15-1 win at home over Ripon this week. Unfortunately the Indians got revenge on the other side, topping the Mustang boys.

The three-time defending women’s champions and one of top programs in the area, the 2013 Mustangs used another strong outing by sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Golding and a combination of Emily Stolken and Emily Bennett, a freshman varsity player who made it to the final cuts of the 14 & Under National Team, to dominate Ripon.

Sac-Joaquin Section runner-ups two years running, the Lady Mustangs finished 38-6 last year but lost in the playoffs for the third time on the season to Rio Americano of Sacramento. In 2011, the Mustangs were knocked out of the playoffs by Del Oro. But no Sacramento powerhouses showed up at the Mustangs pool last week, and the Mustangs only two losses, Clovis and Lincoln, are from teams outside their league.

Maddie Hawes of Ripon scored first at the 6:14 mark, but the Mustangs overwhelmed the opposition from there, leading 9-1 at halftime and the final score was 15-1. Stolken, a junior, led the Mustangs with six goals, including five straight between the first and second quarters. Bennett followed with four, junior Aleksaandra Courtney finished with three and Hannah Hanko and Kate Allen each chipped in a goal for the Mustangs.

Oakdale mixed up its lineup for the contest and a host of other Mustangs chipped in on offense including Samantha Esquil and Shelby Stender.

On the men’s varsity side, Ripon owned the pool, dominating the time of possession and scoring four goals each quarter to win 16-3. Indian junior Caleb Rodgers had six goals and kept constant pressure on Mustangs junior goalie Joseph Guerrero by firing shots off the water that ricocheted to the top corners of the net and attacking for all four quarters.

Oakdale sophomore Jared Kahler started off the game’s scoring, putting the Mustangs up 1-0 at the 6:10 mark, but Ripon countered with 10 straight goals before the Mustangs’ Taylor Leach stopped the run with a goal in the third quarter to put the score to 10-2. Ripon’s Nathaniel Gagnon answered back with a scoring shot and Mustang senior Chase Cunha found the back of the net to make it 11-3. Then Ripon’s Cole Gonzalez scored two straight and Caleb Rodgers followed with a hat trick to make the final score 16-3 in Ripon’s favor.

The Indians improved to 7-8 and the Mustangs fell to 0-6.