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Water Polo Boys Fall Just Short Against Beyer
Oakdale’s Cullen Liekhus scored a pair of goals in playoff action this past week against Beyer, but the Musangs fell to the Patriots by a 7-6 decision in the opening round game. Jeff Kettering/The Leader

The 2023 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 water polo playoffs began this past week. Oakdale took on Beyer in the opening round of the tournament on Friday, Nov. 3. The opening round contest was held at Enochs High School. In the end it was Beyer advancing in the tournament with a thrilling 7-6 victory, ending the season for the Mustangs.

A scoreless first quarter but the two teams each scored three goals in the second quarter. With 4:11 remaining in the half, Beyer’s Holden Puccinelli scored the first goal of the game. Oakdale’s Wiley Ballantyne tied it up 14 seconds later. Puccinelli scored a pair of goals to give Beyer a 3-1 advantage with 1:47 left. With 1:33 remaining in the half, Cullen Liekhus scored for Oakdale and then Ballantyne connected on his second goal of the game to tie it at 3-3 with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter.

The third quarter saw each team score one goal as they continued the back-and-forth battle. Beyer’s Zachary Brizendine scored with 4:51 to give the Patriots back the lead. Oakdale tied it up with 1:48 left in the third quarter on Liekhus’s second goal of the game.

Beyer gained the upper hand as they scored two early goals in the final frame to go up 6-4. With 4:29 remaining in the game, Ballantyne scored on a penalty shot to get the Mustangs back within one, 6-5. Beyer’s Hudson Monday then scored with 4:15 remaining in the game to go up 7-5. With 33 seconds left to play, Oakdale scored on Logan Mercer goal to make it 7-6.

Battling until the end, Oakdale had the ball with three seconds left to play and an opportunity to tie it up and go to overtime, but they were unable to get a shot off as the clock expired.

“These boys are a respectful, young group. I am very proud of them,” said head coach Savannah Martin. “They played hard; they knew that Beyer is a good team and that it would be a tough game.”