It was an evening of mixed emotions at the Oakdale High School Aquatic Center on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Oakdale hosted Pitman in varsity water polo for both the boys and girls. The girls took the pool first and fell to the visitors 9-6. In the finale of the evening, the boys earned a hard fought 10-9 overtime victory.
For the girls, Oakdale trailed 1-0 until Presley Barnes scored to tie the game less than 45 seconds into the match. Down 3-1 in the first, Barnes connected on her second goal of the contest. Oakdale gave up two more goals in the first quarter and went to halftime down 7-2. Barnes scored her third goal of the night at the 4:56 mark to make it 8-3. Izzy Salzer scored a goal in the third quarter to make the score 8-4 Pitman. Capping off her four-goal night, Barnes connected on a goal with 3:49 remaining in the contest making it 9-5. The final goal of the night came from Lacey Perriera with 3:06 remaining in regulation. Goalkeeper for the Mustangs was Drea Davis who had a dozen saves.
The boys had a strong start as they scored the first four goals in the first quarter. Senior co-captain Wiley Ballantyne opened the game with a goal less than a minute into regulation. It was the first of four for Ballantyne. Tyler Mercer had the second goal and Cullen Liekhus added two more goals for Oakdale in the first quarter. The Mustangs lead would soon evaporate as Pitman went on a 5-0 run. The run was broken up by Ballantyne’s second goal of the game.
“At that point we were struggling. We let our lead go but did not lose our composure,” said Ballantyne.
Pitman would build up an 8-5 lead into the fourth quarter but the Mustangs would make the comeback in a matter of minutes. Ballantyne once again found the net with 5:24 remaining in regulation to bring it within an 8-6 game. Down 9-6 with 4:04 left in the contest, Oakdale scored a trio of goals in the final minutes to send it to overtime. Goals were scored by Colton Thoni, Logan Castano and Liekus. In the overtime period, Ballantyne scored the winning goal with less than a minute to play.
“It was an exciting game, and I am thankful that we pulled it off. I hope we can build off of this as a team and have a great season,” said Ballantyne.
Head coach Savannah Martin was pleased with the result and effort her team gave.
“That was fun, stressful but fun. I am very proud of the way they played and did not give up. It is a great non-conference win,” Martin said of the varsity boys.
The Mustangs return to the pool in a home game against East Union on Thursday, Sept. 14. Girls start at 4 p.m. and boys are scheduled at 5 p.m.