Defense has been the mantra for Oakdale High's boys water polo team all season, so there was no reason to expect anything different Tuesday.
The Mustangs used their familiar formula, playing solid team defense and counting on goalie Garrett Porter to swat away shots, to post a 5-4 victory over Modesto and clinch the Modesto Metro Conference crown.
Brian Billings had three goals for Oakdale (13-0), Peter Siemsen scored the other two, and Porter collected six saves.
The win sends Oakdale into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as the MMC's top seed. It opens against the Monticello Empire League's No. 3 team on Nov. 7 at Johansen High.
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Modesto (10-3), Johansen (9-4) and Downey (9-4) are battling for the other two berths. Modesto hosts Johansen and Downey plays Enochs (1-12) in Thursday's MMC finales.
MERCED 7, GOLDEN VALLEY 4, at Merced -- Alex Alvira scored all three of his goals in the first half to spark the Bears (18-10, 8-4 Central California Conference) past the rival Cougars and into the playoffs as the conference's No. 3 seed. GV scored the first goal, but the Bears answered by firing in five of the next six goals and led 5-3 at halftime.
The Bears, seeded behind Buhach Colony and Turlock, open the playoffs against the Tri-City Athletic League champ. Turlock and BC (both 10-1 in the CCC) finish the regular season Thursday.
HILMAR 8, ORESTIMBA 3, at Hilmar -- Jordan Bettencourt celebrated a hat trick, scoring twice in the first half to help the Yellowjackets (8-3-1 Western Athletic Conference) to a 5-2 lead on their way past the Warriors (4-11).
Hilmar has clinched a playoff berth, along with conference champion Patterson (12-0-1) and Livingston (9-2-2).
Patterson has matches remaining with Hilmar and Livingston. Regardless of what happens, the Tigers are guaranteed the top seed and a home match when the Division V playoffs open Nov. 11.
Patterson gets the Mother Lode League No. 3, while the WAC No. 2 visits the Trans-Valley League champ (Ripon or Riverbank) and the No. 3 visits MLL champ Linden.
PATTERSON 10, GUSTINE 0, at Patterson -- Rodrigo Aldana scored five goals, raising his state-high total to 50 this season, and the Tigers (12-0-1) clinched the title. The Tigers lost to Livingston 1-0 in last year's section final.