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Merced, Los Banos, Golden Valley all knocked out in first round of water polo playoffs

Merced's Paige Rasmussen (above, 5) and Brooke Dutcher (right photo) take shots on goal during Saturday's 6-4 loss to Lodi.
Merced's Paige Rasmussen (above, 5) and Brooke Dutcher (right photo) take shots on goal during Saturday's 6-4 loss to Lodi. SUN-STAR PHOTOS BY JAMES BURNS

MODESTO -- It was a rough day in the pool for the Central California Conference on Saturday.

Merced, Golden Valley and Los Banos all lost in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls water polo playoffs at Johansen.

"It was a rough one," said Merced coach Jon Dibblee after his team lost 6-4 to Lodi. "I felt we had the best shot to move on for our league.

"Golden Valley had a tough matchup with Johansen. Los Banos scored a bunch of goals to make it close against Napa.

"But...

"There's nobody left."

Johansen dominated from the start in an 18-4 win over Golden Valley.

Jennifer Cobb's four fourth-quarter goals gave Los Banos a chance, but Napa scored late and held on to an 8-6 win.

Then there was Merced, which took a 4-3 lead into the fourth quarter only to see Lodi score three unanswered goals in a 6-4 loss.

Dibblee went with his starters for just about the entire game and felt fatigue finally caught up with his girls down the stretch.

"To play four full quarters at this level was a little too much to ask of them," said Dibblee, whose team finished 19-10.

"Lodi put pressure on us throughout the game."

Merced goalie Erika Jones was impressive in the cage with 13 saves.

Brooke Dutcher scored three goals for Merced.

Her penalty shot tied the game at 3-3 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.

Merced then took advantage of a Lodi ejection when Tessa Hansen scored to give Merced a 4-3 lead heading into the fourth.

Dibblee's girls had two opportunities to extend the lead.

However, Lodi goalie Amanda Jorgenson blocked a 5-meter penalty shot by Dutcher and Merced failed to capitalize on a man-up situation minutes later.

"We made just little mistakes," Dutcher said. "We ran a play and I passed it to the wrong person. I missed the 5-meter shot.

"The little mistakes hurt."

Lodi's Ashlyn Daniels scored to tie the game at 4-4 with 4:55 left.

On Lodi's next possession, Amy Jacoy fired a shot that deflected off Merced's Paige Rasmussen into the goal to give Lodi a 5-4 lead.

Jacoy put the game away with her third goal of the game with just 22 seconds left in the game.

"We lost to a better team," Dibblee said. "This team never loses because of a lack of effort or because we're not trying.

"Like I said before, this team has as much heart as any team I've coached."

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