Ripon High’s boys water polo team staved off Christian Brothers’ second-half surge to win 10-9 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff encounter Tuesday at Rocklin’s Whitney High.
The Indians, who are making their second postseason appearance in just their second season, advance to the semifinal round for the first time. Their reward: a meeting with two-time section champion Rio Americano of Sacramento.
No matter what happens in Thursday’s final-four contest, coach Eric Zador is proud of the team for making it this far, especially with no substitutes available for the playoff run.
“Making it to the final four with only seven guys — two of them being freshmen and three sophomores — and competing with these big teams is a huge accomplishment,” Zador said. “We’ve come a long ways in just two years, and we have a great future ahead of us.”
As it has all season, Ripon did it with a balanced offense and clutch defense. Freshman Carson Morrow, senior Trevor Smith, Caleb Rogers and Zach Scudder each netted two goals. Nathaniel Gagnon and Dalton Trotter chipped in one apiece.
“Teams usually have one or two dominant players, but with us everyone is deadly,” Zador said. “We’re very well-rounded.”
The Indians led by three at halftime, but Christian Brothers, the Capital Valley Conference champion, made an adjustment to get its attack going.
“With no subs, we basically got picked on,” Zador said, adding that the Falcons pinpointed their attack toward a single defender. “Defensively, we adjusted to it and basically burned the clock. It came down to the wire. They missed a couple 5-meter (attempts), and we missed one, too.
Ripon’s semifinal match is scheduled to begin at 10 Thursday morning back at Whitney High. The other semifinal between McClatchy and El Camino follows at 11:15.