The Tracy and Kimball water polo teams met up Monday afternoon at Kimball High, with the Jaguars taking the win in the varsity girls match and the Bulldogs winning the varsity boys contest.
Varsity girls: Kimball 11, Tracy 6
The Kimball girls kept up the pressure early but didn’t get the ball into the net until late in the first quarter, when senior Olivia Taylor took a pass from senior Ella Bernal and fired it into the left side of the goal.
Taylor scored a minute later on an assist from junior Sofia Orihuela to put Kimball up 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Taylor ended up scoring six of Kimball’s 11 goals. She leads a team that is mostly unchanged from last year, when the Jaguars went to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 championship game, finishing as the division runner-up after losing to Sonora.
“Most of our girls are the same,” Taylor said, adding that a couple of freshmen and a sophomore had been added to the team.
“We’ve been working hard, practicing hard,” she said. “We’ve been working on drives a lot in practice and we’ve had girls running through it and looking for center.”
The Kimball defense kept Tracy’s offense away from the goal for most of the game, with Kimball senior goalie Alyssa Chaghouri making three saves for the game. Meanwhile, Kimball’s offense kept up its attacks, and Tracy senior goalie Ariana Graziano made seven saves.
The Jaguars scored three goals in the second quarter: one from Taylor on an assist from junior Jill Lucero, a shot from the right side by freshman Lauren Lucero, and one from Lauren Lucero on a pass from Orihuela.
The Bulldogs got their first goal four minutes into the second quarter when they pressured the Kimball goal and junior Samantha Dorn was there to push the ball in. She was on the right side of the goal again two minutes later to finish the play when junior Haley Chandler took a shot that landed short.
In the final seconds of the first half, Kaela Jones took a shot that bounced off the crossbar, but Dorn was in position again to follow the ball into the net.
In all, Dorn scored four of Tracy’s six goals. She was pleased to see how well her team matched up once they got accustomed to the Jaguars’ style.
“It was a hard game, definitely,” she said. “We are a strong team, and we just really work together well. The passing is strong and we have some strong arms in the pool.”
She also expected the Jaguars would give her team a tough test.
“I know most of them because I swam with all of them when I was younger, so I know that they are very good and play club polo,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, but we came close, so I’m proud of us.”
Tracy senior Samantha Lieberg brought the Bulldogs within one goal with a shot up the middle at the start of the third quarter. Kimball’s Taylor scored next, and Dorn fired a shot in the Kimball goal right afterward. Lauren Lucero scored again for the Jaguars, and Taylor scored with an assist from Jill Lucero. Dorn and Lieberg teamed up for another Tracy goal, with Lieberg making the shot, to make it an 8-6 game at the end of the third quarter.
Kimball’s defense shut out Tracy in the fourth quarter, and the Jaguars extended their lead with goals from Ell Bernal, from Taylor on a penalty shot, and from Bernal with an assist from Lauren Lucero.
Varsity boys: Tracy 6, Kimball 5
The Bulldogs and Jaguars played a close match all the way through, with Tracy senior Caden Fry the overall leading scorer with five goals for the match.
He said the Bulldogs knew when to take advantage of their opportunities, including the moments when Kimball was down a player because of penalties.
“We had a lot of really good offense, a lot of good teamwork together, especially with the six-on-fives when we were able to see open players,” he said. “One of the things that really helped today was our ball movement. We were really good at finding the open player today.”
Tracy had solid defense as well, with senior goalie Connor Johnson blocking nine of Kimball’s shots over the course of the game.
Tracy’s Fry fired in two shots before Kimball got on the scoreboard with a goal from senior Ethan Dennis. Fry made it a 3-1 game at the end of the quarter with a quick shot up the middle.
Kimball junior Gabe Chandler helped the Jaguars keep the pressure up early in the second quarter, and Kimball sophomore Nathan Fountaine scored two goals in the second to make it a 3-3 game at the half.
Tracy pulled ahead early in the third quarter on a penalty shot from Fry, and Chandler scored one for the Jaguars to tie it up again 4-4. Senior Dane Hurst scored for Tracy and put the Bulldogs up 5-4 at the end of the third.
Another shot from Fry gave Tracy a two-goal margin before Kimball’s Dennis skipped a long shot into the goal to cut the lead to 6-5.
“We had a scrimmage against them early in the season. I know it was really close the whole time, so we knew it was going to be evenly matched,” Dennis said, adding that Kimball has a young team that is getting better with each match.