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Breitenbucher coaches final regular-season game for playoff-bound Sierra
Oakdale-Sierra water polo
Sierra coach Dave Breitenbucher, with assistant Corey Winter, has a chat with his boys water polo team in between quarters Tuesday against visiting Oakdale. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Sierra honored outgoing water polo coach Dave Breitenbucher along with its 12 seniors Tuesday in the Valley Oak League finale against Oakdale.

The visiting Mustangs won both contests in a landslide, as their boys team locked up a VOL title share with a 17-6 win, while the girls prevailed, 15-9.

Breitenbucher started the program when the current seniors were freshmen. Assistants Lauren Koury and Corey Winter will take over the girls and boys teams, respectively, as head coaches. Breitenbucher said he will remain as the school’s swim coach for two more seasons, a position he has held since 1999.

“I never played (water polo),” Breitenbucher said. “I got the program to where I wanted. They’re competitive, I’ve got coaches who will take the program forward and I can walk away. The program is in good shape.”

The program has surely come a long way in a short time. The boys have qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time after placing third in the VOL with a 6-4 record (9-7 overall). The Timberwolves took second in the DeLong Tournament Blue Division this past weekend.

Sierra stunned Oakdale out the gate, taking a 4-2 lead into the second quarter. The Mustangs then turned up the defensive pressure, firing three goals in a 41-second span to take the lead for good. Oakdale outscored the T’wolves 13-1 in the middle quarters. Reserve Carson Murray got the Sierra crowd excited when he scored the final goal of the game off an assist from Mo Tautoi.

“I should have been starting the seniors all year,” Breitenbucher joked. “They played well. The boys came together at the end of the season and played some great games. They’ve been playing some of the best water polo, and they did it again in the first period.”

Senior standout Mitchell Van Zwaluwenburg accounted for two Sierra goals. Moises Alvarado, Erfan Ballew and Troy Morrow added one each. Goalie Lucas Stackpole keyed the Timberwolves’ first-quarter surge, coming up with five of his nine saves.

Eleven different players scored for Oakdale, including goalie Nick Oykzeul, who stole a long pass from Stackpole and immediately chucked it across the pool. Cillen Liekas led the Mustangs with three goals.

In the girls match, Sierra (3-4, 12-9) finished strong by scoring five of the final six goals in the second half. Before that, the Mustangs had scored seven unanswered goals for a 13-3 cushion. 

Gianna Ramos led Sierra with four goals, all scored in the second half. Lauren Ellis and Amy Fadeff each scored twice, and Kiera Brink had one goal.  

Kaci Jericoff fired five goals for Oakdale, while Kenadee Martinez, Morgan Tnoni and Presley Barnes scored two each.

Brackets for the postseason will be released on Thursday.