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Oak Ridge water polo splits with Rocklin

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Coming off a second-place finish at the El Capitan Tournament, Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ water polo team kept the positive momentum going with two Sierra Foothill League wins last week.

The Trojans (2-2 in league, 8-10 overall) defeated Whitney, 9-6, on Oct. 2 and then got by Rocklin last Thursday, 13-9.

“It was a great weekend at El Capitan,” Oak Ridge coach Patrick Foster said. “We faced good opponents and had some tough games that helped prepare us for this week. We are progressing.”

Oak Ridge won three of four matches during the tournament, losing to host El Capitan in the championship game, 7-4.

After the win over Whitney, Oak Ridge broke a 4-4 tie with Rocklin by scoring six straight goals on its way to a 13-9 win. Rachael Kowalchick scored four of those goals and ended the game with six to go with one assist. Chloe Nichols and Lauren Tilley also scored during the streak; Nichols ending with three goals and two assists, while Tilley added three assists. Amelia Otero, Ellie Crook and Mackenzie Buehler also scored. Katherine Hampton made six saves in goal.

“We’re steadily getting better,” Foster said. “Our big three, Rachael, Lauren and Chloe, are still playing well, and our freshman goalie, Katherine, has been outstanding in the cage. Ellie has been playing well. We’re learning our strengths better and playing better together. Our defense has been outstanding, and now our offense is picking it up.”

The team’s two league losses could have gone either way, as they dropped a 9-8 game to Del Oro and a 7-5 decision to Granite Bay. The team gets another shot at the Grizzlies on Thursday when they travel to Granite Bay.

The Oak Ridge boys are having a similar season, as they are also 2-2 in the Sierra Foothill League and 6-9 overall. The Trojans defeated Del Oro, 11-7, but were blown out by Granite Bay, 23-5. After beating Whitney, 10-9, the team suffered a one-goal loss to Rocklin last Thursday, 11-10.

The Trojans got off to a slow start, falling behind the Thunder, 4-0. They trailed 10-6 in the fourth quarter before scoring four of the next five goals to make the final score 11-10. Caleb Thoms scored two of those goals, while Garrett Hassian and Ryan Carpenter had the others. The difference in the game was the slow start, as Oak Ridge outscored the Thunder 10-7 over the last three quarters.

“That was a good game,” Foster said. “Kaleb, Garrett, and Erik played really well, and Ethan has been good in the cage. We got a late jump on the game. Rocklin got an early lead, and we can’t be that off in the beginning of a game.”

Thoms had four goals to lead the team, while Carpenter, Greer and Hassian scored twice. Horn made eight saves in goal.

“At the beginning of the season, we weren’t finishing games, but we played all the way to end today and look how close it was,” Foster said. “It was a quality game and a great match-up with Rocklin. Next time we play them there. It should be interesting. The boys are beginning to work together better and are getting results.”