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Mustangs Fall Just Short In Water Polo Championship Run
Goalkeeper Zach Hill had nine saves against Nevada Union in Oakdale’s 15-4 semifinal victory.Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz
Chandler Neal looks for an open teammate during the 2018 Section Finals game on Saturday in Lodi. Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz
Displaying their Sac-Joaquin Section Finalist plaque are members of the varsity boys water polo team. This was the first time in school history that the Mustang boys reached the finals.Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz

For the first time in school history, the Oakdale High School boys water polo team reached the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game. Following a 15-4 semi-finals victory over Nevada Union, Oakdale traveled to Tokay High School in Lodi on Saturday, Nov. 10 for the 2018-2019 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finals. Standing in the way of capturing the blue banner was the top seed Christian Brothers. Oakdale went toe-to-toe with the two-time defending section champs but it was the Falcons who prevailed 10-7 to win their third straight section title.

“It was a great effort but this one hurts. The boys worked very hard and played hard but simple mistakes and inexperience was the biggest difference today,” said Oakdale head coach Diane Kline.

To reach the finals Oakdale first traveled to Johansen High School in Modesto to take on the Miners of Nevada Union. In the contest Oakdale never trailed and scored three quick goals to set the tempo of the game. Leading the team in scoring was Stash Perry, who scored five goals while his brother Ethan added four in the win.

“This is exciting and all of us worked hard to get here,” said Ethan Perry.

At the end of the first period Oakdale led 3-1 and pulled away from the Miners in the second period when they outscored them 6-1. Adding to the Perry brothers’ offense was Aron Cameron and Chandler Neal, who each tallied multiple goals.

In the final round on Saturday, the boys looked focused and ready to play. Oakdale got off to a fast start when Ethan Perry scored the first goal of the day less than two minutes into the contest. Christian Brothers answered with two quick goals to take a 3-1 advantage after the first period. Down 3-1 Ethan Perry scored his second goal of the game to trim the Falcons lead. With five seconds remaining in the half Cameron scored his first of three goals on the day to go into halftime down 5-3.

Oakdale tied the game in the third period after two fast goals. Stash Perry scored with 5:14 left in the period and his brother answered with a goal at 4:03 thanks to an assist by Stash. Christian Brothers countered with two quick goals to go up 7-5. Ethan Perry fouled out of the contest in the third period and the Falcons took advantage of the situation.

“Losing Ethan slowed down our offense. Christian Brothers did a great job on defense to slow down our offense after he was ejected,” Kline said.

With 37 seconds left in the third period Cameron scored his second goal, leaving the Mustangs facing a 7-6 deficit entering the final period.

Christian Brothers scored two goals within seconds of each other to have Oakdale call timeout with 5:23 remaining in the contest. Following the timeout Cameron found the back of the net for the third and final time with 4:42 left to play but the Mustangs could not send any more shots into the net.

“It’s a tough loss but that was a great team that we were playing. I thought we had opportunities to win but it just did not happen,” said Cameron following the loss.

Although the team did not win the title, their season is not completely over. They have qualified to take part in the NorCal Championships, an eight team tournament. The brackets had not been released as of The Leader’s press time.