Oak Ridge water polo teams aim for strong playoff run

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ water polo team enters the Division I playoffs Saturday with a game against Vintage at 2 p.m. The Lady Trojans, the third seed out of the Delta Valley Conference, have a 19-11 overall record and will face Vintage, the winners of the Modesto Metro Conference. The teams are familiar with each other, having just played Saturday in the Crusher Classic at Vintage High in Napa. Vintage won the game 3-2, handing the Lady Trojans their only loss of the tournament. “We led 2-0 and they came back and won so it’s a team we can beat,” Oak Ridge coach Don McCormick said. “They’re a tough team, but we had some defensive lapses and kind of beat ourselves. We’re going to have to be mentally tough and play good defense to beat them.” It was a good weekend for the Lady Trojans, despite the loss. The team won four games over Christian Brothers, Fairfield, McClatchy and Granite Bay to place third in the tournament. The win over McClatchy avenged a loss to the Lions earlier in the season, while the 7-1 win over the Grizzlies to earn them a third-place finish was impressive. “We beat them earlier at their pool, 11-9 in overtime, but this win was big,” McCormick said. “It was a good team effort and I’m very happy to have won. We shut down a quality opponent and it’s a good way to enter the postseason.” The varsity boys, also the third seed from the Delta Valley Conference, open the playoffs on Friday against Lincoln of Stockton, the second seed from the San Joaquin Athletic Association. It’s a match coach Patrick Foster feels they could win, which would advance them to the second round against the Lodi/Modesto winner. “We’ve never gotten past the second round so that’s our goal,” Foster said. “It’s going to take a lot of teamwork. We’ve got some fast players, led by Garrison Yeandle, who’s got power and strength in the middle, and we’ve got a good goalie. We just have to play together and play as a team until the whistle blows.” Oak Ridge, 22-21 on the season, enters the playoffs coming off a 19-12 loss to Jesuit on Wednesday. Despite the loss, Foster was pleased with how the team played. “I thought we played extremely well,” Foster said. “I feel more prepared going into sections than I did after the loss to Davis.”