RIPON — Sierra High's young water polo program had its best showing Wednesday at the Ervin Zador Aquatic Center.
In the boys game, the Timberwolves closed to within two goals of host Ripon High nearing the final two minutes. The Indians, however, came through with a pair of steals by Donovan Armstrong and an insurance goal by Maika West in preserving the 15-12 Valley Oak League win. Ripon won the girls game more handily, 13-0.
"This was great experience for us to play in a close and competitive contest," said Sierra coach Corey Winters.
Zach Van Zwaluwenburg provided much of the offensive fire power by scoring 11 goals for the Timberwolves (0-2 VOL, 0-4 overall).
"He was set up with passes from his teammates," Winters said.
The Indians (3-0 VOL) relied on balanced scoring, getting five goals from Josh Harvey, three from West, and one each from the likes of Kai West, Conner McClure and Armstrong.
Goalie Matthew De La O, who like the rest of the Ripon starters played sparingly, had an assist to go with several saves.
Freshman Hunter Adams played three quarters of the game at goal keeper.
"He continued to show improvements," said Indians coach Christine Zador, whose team will host Oakdale next week.
It was Van Zwaluwenburg who got Sierra off and running with pair of early goals.
Down 2-0, Sierra responded by netting eight unanswered goals in that opening period. Maika West scored three times during the rally.
Ripon entered the break with an 8-3 advantage.
Both teams traded goals in the third period, with the Indians maintaining an 11-6 edge entering the final period.
The Timberwolves went on a 5-1 run, closing the gap to 12-10 with 2:07 remaining in the game.
It took a pair of steals by Armstrong to finally preserve victory for Sierra.
Kennedy Brubaker scored four goals for the Ripon girls, who easily rolled past the Timberwolves.
"Even though we lost, I thought we played well," said Sierra coach Dave Breitenbucher.
In particular, he was pleased with his team's defense.
Breitenbucher indicated that his team, which is a first-year program, is still a work in progress.
"We've learned a lot from a game like this," he added. "We're starting to come together."