Some thrilling and aggressive play from Oakdale High girls water polo stars Shelby Stender and Cassie Lee propelled the under-16 Sonora/Oakdale (SOAK) Water Polo Club to a 19th place finish among 36 teams at the recent Swim Outlet Junior Olympics in Orange County.
With teams from across the nation vying for top honors, Oakdale won their last match and finished 2-5 against extremely tough opponents.
“It was a good learning experience,” SOAK and Oakdale High coach Diane Kline said on Sunday. “We played teams from Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Chicago, and it was nice for the girls to see just how big water polo is across the country.”
Kline credited a lot of SOAK’s success to the terrific efforts of versatile athletes, Stender and Lee.
“They are basically utility players, and they do anything I ask of them,” Kline said. “They can defend, score or steal, and they had a very good weekend.”
SOAK action started with a 14-0 loss to Diablo Black on Aug. 4, before a three-score defeat to Windy City the same day and a 7-3 loss to the Thunder on Aug. 5. Oakdale beat Carlsbad later that day by a 9-4 decision, before an 11-3 loss to the Kingfish on Saturday.
The team shook off a one-score defeat to Central Florida, taking momentum from that close game and parlaying it into a 12-6 win over Extreme B in Oakdale’s final match on Sunday.
Early action had put the team into the second tier of brackets in the highly competitive Gold division (24 teams).
The Oakdale girls had just a couple of days off to rest from the busy club season, but pick up high school action in the Oakdale Aquatic Center today, Aug. 10.
“We stepped up our conditioning this summer and we are definitely ready to start the high school season,” Kline said. “We have been in the water a lot, and I think that will be a big advantage for us when we start school.”
The 18-and-under Oakdale boys also competed in a challenge bracket of Junior Olympics in late July and early August. The team won a one-sided 19-2 victory over the Thunder Silver and lost five games by five or fewer goals.