Granite Bay boys fall to Rio Americano in water polo final
A high-intensity matchup between Granite Bay and Rio Americano high schools gave fans plenty to cheer for as the teams battled for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II boys water polo championship Saturday at the Roseville Aquatics Center.
The Grizzlies won an earlier meeting this season, but the Raiders gained revenge and the section banner with an 8-6 victory.
A goal by Granite Bay’s Max Vigeant tied the score 1-1 early, but Rio Americano closed the opening quarter with a 4-0 run.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed, but Rio played an outstanding game,” Granite Bay coach John MacLean said. “They played the game they needed on the day that mattered.”
Johnny Neumann put in a short shot with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter to give the Raiders a 6-1 edge. Andrew Murch scored 30 seconds later to narrow the Grizzlies’ deficit to 6-2, but Tanner Bond scored for the Raiders.
Granite Bay scored two quick goals in the second half to cut the deficit to 7-5.
“It’s kind of like running the football or body punches in a fight – counterattack is something that wears a team down, and we knew we’d be better in the second half than the first,” MacLean said. “We’ve always been a second-half team.”
Rio gave itself breathing room with Neumann’s fourth goal providing an 8-5 lead with just under 4½ minutes to play.
“It was a beautiful game plan and a nice game,” MacLean said. “They forced us away from all the things we like to do and made us play their game.”
The Raiders took a defensive stance as the minutes wound down, playing keep-away and running time off the clock.
Granite Bay sneaked in one more goal by Elliott Adams with 26 seconds left.
Grizzlies drop girls final
Granite Bay High School’s girls water polo team had the game plan, and it took plenty of shots.
The Grizzlies just couldn’t find the net in their 9-3 loss to Rio Americano in the Division II championship game at the Roseville Aquatics Center.
It’s the third runner-up finish to Rio Americano in four years and second in a row under coach Sarah Norton. The Raiders have won nine section titles in a row.
“I couldn’t know a team better than I know Rio Americano,” Norton said. “Rio plays really well as a cohesive unit. They just work really well together. They play together all year long.”
The score was tied 1-1 after a quarter, and the Grizzlies trailed 4-1 at halftime and 6-2 after three periods.
Granite Bay missed 31 shots, and only Jessica Hamby, Alison Hamby and Rebecca Schmidt scored.
“Our game plan worked,” Norton said. “Our defense worked for the first half. We just couldn’t put our shots away. They just weren’t going in.”
- Staff report