Trojan water polo teams focus on postseason

By: Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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There is about a week and a half remaining in the respective Oak Ridge boys and girls water polo seasons. Girls’ coach Don McCormick says that he and boys’ coach Patrick Foster are excited at chances to clinch postseason berths. The boys’ team has consistently hovered around the .500 mark all year, being only three games over, at most, during any point of the season (19-18 entering last weekend). They have showed up when it counts, going 4-1 in the Sacramento Valley League thus far, including a clutch victory at Ponderosa on Oct. 13 that was a major confidence booster for the Trojans. “Beating Pondo was huge,” said McCormick, who mainly coaches the girls’ squad, but also assists with much of the boys’ operation. “We need to come out and play hard against Jesuit. It will only help our seeding in the tournament and hopefully help us progress further.” The only team standing in the way of Foster’s boys’ team is Jesuit—the team that the Trojans will face in the regular season finale. Jesuit is currently 5-0 in league and Oak Ridge would need a win to force a tie for the league title. The boys’ team has been paced by the play of senior goalkeeper Shane O’Rourke, who has emerged into one of the section’s top net defenders. Also contributing to the Trojans’ cause have been senior co-captain Riley McNamara and juniors Josh Verner and Garrison Yeandle. “Our boys have continually and consistently shown up for every game,” McCormick said. The nucleus for the girls’ team consists of the leadership of senior Ashley Adams and junior Amanda Jones, who has accounted for more than a quarter of the Lady Trojans’ goals this year while junior Jackie Bateman patrols the net. “Ashley has been one hardest workers to ever play for me,” explained McCormick. “Amanda does all the dirty work for us. She is somewhat new to the hole set position but she has done quite well.” McCormick’s Lady Trojans (15-10, 4-1 DRL) are scheduled to square off with St. Francis in their Delta River League finale with their fate in their own hands. Oak Ridge needs to win to at least secure a tie for the league crown. “It’s not a done deal yet,” says McCormick, whose team has lost four straight after winning eight of its previous nine games. Should the Lady Trojans clinch a playoff spot, they are slated to play in Napa this weekend at the Crusher Classic Tournament as a bit of a tune-up for the postseason. “We have high expectations,” said McCormick. “We moved up to Division I this year so we don’t know every team that will be in the postseason just yet. But we have seen some of them in tournaments this year so we’re somewhat prepared.” Both McCormick and Foster share a common philosophy heading into the final stretch of the season. “Team defense wins games,” said McCormick. “We want to continue to get better, play as a team and stay solid defensively. We want to be peaking once the playoffs roll around.”