Grizzlies face St. Mary’s today in playoff semifinals

Jackson MacLeane tallies four goals in Granite Bay's redemption win last week over Lodi
By: Steven Wilson,
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It was less than a week prior to their playoff matchup that the Granite Bay boys water polo team earned its meaningful redemption win against Lodi. 

The Grizzlies, who lost in the third round of the CIF Section championships last year by one goal to the Flames, sought to redeem their postseason loss with one clean win over Lodi. Instead, they got two. 

Thanks to a game-high four goals from Jackson MacLeane, the Grizzlies — who were fresh off a first-place finish in the DeLong Tournament after topping Jesuit, 6-0, in the title game — beat Lodi for the second time in a week Thursday, 13-2, in the section playoffs. 

“This was the team that knocked us out,” Granite Bay’s coach John MacLeane stated. “Even though a lot of those guys graduated, these were the guys who played against that section championship lineup. They were very senior heavy, but they had a lot of great players on that team, so we knew this was going to be tough.”

Granite Bay topped Lodi, 13-4, last Friday in the DeLong Tournament and followed it up with a big win in Del Oro’s new polo Thursday afternoon.

Despite the back-to-back games, the Grizzlies found the net with ease early on and used a similar offensive approach.

“I think we caught them a little flat-footed in the first quarter with our counter attack and that shocked me because they know that’s so much of what we do,” Coach MacLeane acknowledged. “But after that, they did a nice job staying with us.”

Leading that counter attack was junior Jackson MacLeane, who had three of Granite Bay’s five goals in the first period. Andrew Kambe and Logan Swanson had the other two as the Grizzlies took a 5-0 lead over the Flames.

“Our defense really is the first stage of our offense,” Coach MacLeane said. “It’s our defense that sets up that counter attack.”

Brett Harriman added another goal for the green and silver before Lodi got on the board with back-to-back scores. But every time the Flames closed the gap, the Grizzlies managed to shut them out for a quarter. 

After posting a shutout in the first period, Lodi found the net twice in the second. The Grizzlies responded with a shutout in the third quarter before the Flames added one goal in the fourth. 

The lack of consistency hurt their comeback attempt though, as Granite Bay sealed the win with three fourth quarter scores, one each from MacLeane, Tyler Boyer and Michael Plastino.

“Everybody was spaced out, so that allowed me to come down the middle and beat my defender off the set,” Jackson MacLeane explained. “I was able to swim right into the open space and score from there. That worked really well when we spaced correctly.”

The win bumps the Grizzlies into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals where they’ll face No. 2 seeded St. Mary’s, which owns a 20-9 overall record. Granite Bay owns a pair of wins over the Rams this season, but both were close games. Coach MacLeane sees a lot of similarities between the two programs. 

“They’re young, but really talented — they’re us two years ago,” the veteran coach admitted. “They’ve got a kid on the team named Hosmer, who’s a real skinny, 140-pound sophomore, but that kid is probably the best outside shooter in the section. If we don’t control him, we’re in trouble.”

Game time is set for 3:15 p.m. at Johansen High School in Modesto.