Merced College polo teams send Ohlone packing

October 14, 2010 

For a team that prides itself on its transition game, the Merced College men's water polo team can occasionally be caught sleeping while getting back on defense.

Or in the case of Wednesday afternoon's Coast Conference showdown with Ohlone, maybe a little more than occasionally.

An almost sparkling defensive display turned in by the Blue Devils had its share of letdowns. The bulk of which came in the form of breakaways.

Six to be exact.

Fortunately for MC, goalkeepers Jacob Cross and Corey Rendon were up to the task.

Cross turned away four 1-on-1 chances in the first half and Rendon denied another two after intermission.

The saves proved huge as the Blue Devils pulled out a 9-5 victory in their first home appearance of the season.

"Our defense played great on Saturday and we were hoping it would carry over into this one," MC men's head coach Scott McCall said. "Unfortunately, we still have guys that sometimes get caught watching instead of swimming back.

"I thought it was a pretty good overall defensive performance, though. Now we can get ready for Friday's big matchup with Modesto."

MC secured the victory in the first and fourth quarters, turning high-intensity defensive pressure into easy transition goals.

Sophomore Matt Rabe and freshman Luke Baunm set the tone.

The duo combined for five of their 14 steals in the first quarter as the Blue Devils built a 3-0 lead.

"We rely heavily on our defense," said Cross, who finished with five saves. "We let a few guys get through today, but that's going to happen.

"When we did letdown, the guys did a good job of picking it right back up."

Sharp as the Blue Devils (2-1 CC, 8-10) were to open the game, poor shooting kept things close.

As MC struggled to maintain its defensive effort, Ohlone (1-1 CC, 2-10) began chipping its way back into the game in the middle quarters.

Kevin Correia's second goal of the third quarter cut MC's lead to 6-4.

It was as close as Ohlone would get.

Peter Brigham fired home a goal a few minutes later and the Blue Devils reapplied the defensive clamps in the fourth quarter.

Rabe, Brigham and Matt Moranda led MC with two goals, while Coelby Jerner added six assists.

The men's victory capped an MC sweep over Ohlone as the women cruised to a 20-5 victory.

Rebekah Dawn (55 goals) moved back into second on the state scoring list with five goals and Vanessa Morales continued her current tear with four goals for the Lady Devils (4-0 CC, 10-2).

Kelly Yoder made six saves in the cage and Keziah Brigham added four in relief of her.

Women's head coach Bill Halpin was hoping for a cleaner performance in preparation for Friday's Modesto showdown.

"I'm pleased to get a win, but we got a little sloppy defensively," Halpin said. "Other than Foothill, the competition in the conference isn't great, but we can't get in the habit of having those breakdowns."

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