The Merced girls water polo team suddenly went into attack mode.
Trailing by two goals in the second quarter, the Bears turned their game around with their aggression.Merced countered, they attacked the cage, they drew kickouts. The Bears put on a clinic as they outscored Turlock 8-1 in the second and third quarters on their way to a 12-5 win in a battle of the Central California Conference unbeatens on Thursday afternoon at Merced High.
“We kept our composure,” Merced’s first-year coach Kristy Dunham said. “We were focused and we played good defense. Everyone was looking to help and talking. When it was somebody’s turn to attack the cage they did.”
Merced’s Alison Miller took over the game, scoring eight goals.
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Miller tied the game at 2-2 with a goal with 4:40 left in the first half.
The Bears (4-0 CCC, 9-5 overall) then took the lead for good on their next possession when Kelsey McCabe scored one of her two goals in the game with 3:58 left in the half.
Merced then put the game away in the third quarter.
Miller scored on a penalty shot to extend the Bears’ lead to 4-2 with 6:01 left in the third quarter.After Turlock (3-1 CCC) answered back, McCabe fired a shot in the cage as Merced took advantage of a man-up situation.
Miller closed out the third quarter with three more goals that gave the Bears an 8-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We drew four kick-outs and we scored on three of the man-up situations,” Dunham said. “We executed well on our counter attacks. We never let (Turlock) relax on defense.”
Merced’s Tara McGee was big on the defensive end with eight steals and goalie Sarah Johnston stopped 13 shots.
Golden Valley 10, Atwater 9 (3 OT)
ATWATER — Dani Diele scored in sudden death triple overtime to lift the Cougars (2-2 CCC) to a thrilling win over the Falcons (1-3).
Diele scored three goals for GV.
Mekayla Coughran poured in six goals for Atwater.
Turlock 15, Merced 12
Merced coach Steve Eccles feels his team is so close.
The Bears (2-2 CCC) played with Turlock (4-0) for 25 of the 28 minutes on Thursday.
However, the Bulldogs closed out the final 3 minutes of the third quarter with a 5-0 run that broke a 7-7 tie.
“The third quarter killed us,” Eccles said. “Just a couple errors. We make a mistake on defense and then we throw the ball out of the pool on a bad pass. That was two goals right there. We lost our composure.”Morley Baker and Patrick O’Connor combined to score Turlock’s first 11 goals. Baker finished with seven goals. O’Connor added five goals.Merced was led by JT Lightfoot’s four goals. Brett Fogelberg and Jake Bower scored three each.
“We’re almost a good team,” Eccles said. “Turlock is a good team. We’re not there yet. We’re learning and battling, but moral victories are not victories.”
Atwater 17, Golden Valley 7
ATWATER — Colin Smelcer scored three goals and assisted on two others to help the Falcons breeze to a win.The Falcons jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the first half.