Defense leads Johansen to win

With a suffocating defense and a potent offense, the Johansen High girls water polo team took down Merced 11-5 on Friday at Johansen High in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I tournament.

"I think we did good but we need to be better," Johansen's Andie Plunkett said. "We'll have to do better for Davis (Yolo)."

Plunkett had a game-high five goals and Jodi Hanson scored three.

Johansen, which went 14-0 in the Modesto Metro Conference, will take on Vintage on Tuesday at Tokay High in the second round. If it wins, it could face Davis-Yolo in the third round, if Davis-Yolo beats Tokay.

"We want to play Davis (Yolo), that's what we're expecting," Johansen coach Brent Bohlender said. "That's a big game."

Davis-Yolo beat Golden Valley 19-2 Friday and has been to the last seven championship games in this tournament with the last win coming in 2004. Johansen won the first four championships, its last title coming in 1999.

Plunkett said that one of the things Johansen was able to do well was pressure Merced's offense -- something she said the team must do to advance deeper in the tournament.

Late in the second half senior Breanne Reed was playing strong defense that forced her to make a bad pass, and Brandie McGee swam in the passing lane and stole the ball.

Also, sophomore Taylor Hanson placed her hands near the face of her opponent, keeping her from passing or shooting, which led to a shot clock violation.

"We wanted to shut down their offense if we could and we pretty much did that," Bohlender said. "The girls played well."

Pitman High was the only other local team to advance in the tournament as it beat Davis 13-5. Defending champion St. Francis beat Sonora 19-4, and Lodi defeated Modesto, 5-3.

Pitman will take on Lincoln-Stockton on Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Tokay High while Johansen's game against Napa starts at 11 a.m. If the local teams advance, they will play Thursday. The championship game will be held Saturday at Roseville's Woodcreek High at 1 p.m.

Bee staff writer Scott Oxarart can be reached at or 578-2300.