It was a disappointing day in the pool for both the Atwater and Merced boys water polo teams.
The Falcons and Bears saw their seasons come to an end with blowout losses in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 quarterfinals at Tokay High on Monday afternoon.
Lodi jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the third quarter on its way to a 17-10 win over Atwater. Merced fell to top seed Davis of Yolo County 20-5 earlier in the day.
“We expected a closer game,” said Atwater coach David Svendsen. “I’m not disappointed the way we ended the season. We would have liked a closer game for our seniors. I told them they’ll remember their undefeated league championship season before they remember their loss in the section championship.”
The Falcons (26-6) lost by just one goal in overtime earlier this season to Lodi.
This time the Flames defense focused on taking away Atwater’s 2-meter threat Josh Heller. Lodi dropped a second defender from the wing to help double-team Heller and brought its goalie out to prevent Atwater from trying to throw the ball over the top.
Atwater tried to force the ball in but that just led to turnovers and quick transition goals for Lodi.
“I know my teammates were trying to get me the ball,” said Heller, who still led the Falcons with four goals. “I tried to do the best I could with two guys on me. We saw the same thing our last game against Tokay. I remember having three guys on me.
“Usually guys will drive through and take a guy with them when that happens. This time we seemed more stagnant.”
Nic Carniglia, Noah Carniglia and Dane Dornbush each scored goals to give the Flames a 3-0 lead with 3 minutes and 34 seconds left in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Lodi held Atwater to just one goal in the first quarter when Brody Patterson scored from the wing with 2:35 left in the quarter.
Lodi built the lead to 8-3 at the half with the help of two goals from Ryan Isola.
“We told our guys in the beginning that they were going to try to take away Heller,” Svendsen said. “We had to have motion but we didn’t have motion from the beginning. Lodi was strong and physical. We had to be perfect today.”
The Flames continued to pull away in the second half and frustration set in for the Falcons. Atwater goalie Corbett McDaniel was tossed from the game after throwing a punch at Dornbush in front of the cage with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
With the Lodi starters on the bench, Atwater scored the final four goals of the game to make the score more respectable. Ben Peterson scored three goals for the Falcons.
Graham Fullerton paced Davis with five goals and Garrett Fisk scored four times.
Merced was led by Josh Fluetsch’s two goals.