Atwater — The goals came in a flurry for Josh Heller.
He scored out on the break. He posted up in front of the cage. He knifed through the middle of the pool and even had a tap-in on a lob.
When the waters calmed, Heller led Atwater with five goals in a big 14-8 victory over Buhach Colony on Wednesday night.
And that wasn't even his most important contribution at the Falcon pool.
Heller drew the assignment of defending BC's top scorer Andrew Blackwood for much of the evening. Heller's length helped counter Blackwood's broad body down low, often denying him the opportunity to touch the ball in some of BC's biggest possessions.
"Andrew and I played Junior Olympics together this summer, so we know each other pretty well," Heller said. "He's got a really hard shot, so I knew the best way to defend him was to not let him get the ball."
The strategy produced mixed results early as a goal and an assist from Blackwood helped Buhach Colony (3-2 Central California Conference, 12-8) tie the game up at 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Atwater (3-1 CCC, 13-5) was penalized for overly aggressive defense, handing the Thunder a number of early man-up situations on kickouts.
"That was pretty frustrating," Atwater coach Seth Gentry said. "We had to really adjust and move some guys around. But the guys stuck with it and persevered.
"Once we got things sorted out on defense, our counterattack kind of took over the game."
The Falcons literally raced to a 6-3 lead in the second quarter, using a quick transition game to score three goals in less than a minute.
BC responded. Walter Williams cut the lead to 6-4, and Blackwood added a 5-meter goal to trim the lead to one with 1, minute 44 seconds to go in the half.
It's as close as the Thunder would get.
Heller and Daniel Motz (three goals, three steals) closed the second quarter with goals to give Atwater an 8-5 lead at intermission.
The Falcons continued to push the ball up the pool in the second half, while forcing BC to execute in its halfcourt offense.
A couple quick goals by Justin Cowan and Motz to open the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
Things could have been worse for BC if not for Kaden Verdin Cose's 23 saves. Corbett McDaniel countered with 10 for Atwater.
"It was the first time in league play that we've been outswam," BC coach Rod Parker said. "They got out on the break and we got caught watching a couple times. It was the difference in the game."
The BC girls capped off a strong first round of conference play with a 19-12 victory over Atwater earlier in the day.
Paloma Salazar (game-high seven goals) and Noelle Farrar (six) paced the Thunder (4-1 CCC).
Marissa Crider (five goals) and Amber Sanchez (four) did their best to keep the Falcons in the game and Kaitlin Sheehan made 16 saves.