RIPON — Experience carried the day Thursday as No. 2 Ripon pounded No. 7 Amador of Sutter Creek 18-4 in opening-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls water polo playoffs at the Ervin Zador Aquatic Center.
It was the first-ever postseason game for the Valley Oak League champion Indians (19-5), but it was years in the making.
“We were ranked pretty high in Division III and Amador is a beginning program,” coach Erik Zador said. “They have only been around for a couple of years. They definitely look like they are being coached well. They did some good movements and things, but I think we have more experience as a program.”
“The girls came out well and played with a lot of confidence and that helped separate us from them.”
The two teams traded goals to start the game and then the Indians went on an 8-0 run behind Molly Burton’s five goals, two assists and a steal.
“Our coach told us that we had to come out strong and counter as many times as we could,” Burton said. “And we have been practicing all week and we noticed they were not as strong as swimmers as we were so we took advantage of that.”
After the first goal for the Buffaloes (8-4), Ripon goalie Madyson Valencia (11 saves) allowed just two more goals until Amador snuck one in the net with eight seconds left in the game.
“Our defense was really strong,” Valencia said. “It took us a while to wake up and we were ready to play after that.
Zador emptied his bench with a 10-2 lead midway through the second quarter.
“I am never for running up the score,” Zador said. “I know there have been a lot of girls on our bench that have not gotten a lot of playing time and they have been working just as hard as our starting group and deserve the playing time.
“I had a couple of girls I moved up from the JV that are going to be varsity next year, Kennedy (Brubaker) was one of them, and they did a nice job. I am trying to get them more experience at the varsity level.”
Brubaker made the most her varsity debut with four goals.
“Our coach told us that when we get in we have to perform our best,” Brubaker said. “And that is what I did and I tried to make sure everyone got their chance as well.”
Taylor Blair (assist, two steals) and Lilly Crew (assist, steal) scored two goals each for the Indians. Amy Bacay (two assists, steal), Ashtyne Topie (two assists, two steals), Haven Fasani (assist), Kaylee Medeiros (assist) and Darrion Deleon each added a goal for Ripon.
Lauren McGowan had two assists and a steal; Lilly Crew an assist and a steal; Eleanor Tran two assists and Emma Ayers two steals.
Buffaloes coach Ron Hood is pleased with the progress his team has made in this just its second year.
“We played against a better team today,” Hood said. “We are a small school and this is only our second year of water polo and to make it this far is really good.
“We have a great group of girls and we are hopeful our program is going to continue to grow. We barely had subs last year and this year we have a great group of kids and they have really come a long way.”
Ripon will face either No. 3 VOL foe Kimball or No. 6 Nevada Union in the semifinals Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. at Johansen High in Modesto.