Grizzlies hold off DO for SFL title

Granite Bay still on top of water polo
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The stands were rocking Thursday night at the Roseville Aquatics Center as the two top boys water polo teams in the area took to the pool to play for the Sierra Foothill League title. Just as it had done in the regular season, the Granite Bay High team squeezed out a close, hard-fought win that solidified its lock on the league title and top seed for the section playoffs that begin next week. This one ended with the Grizzlies on top 11-9. A good-sized crowd gathered to witness this classic matchup and they were not disappointed. “Win or lose those close games are what we live for,” said Granite Bay coach John MacLeane. “The crowd definitely helps to swing emotions back and forth. We try to understand that, and not get too high or too low during the game.” Del Oro tallied first, just two minutes in when Alex Obert assisted on a Collin Johnston goal. The teams traded goal from there over about a two-minute stretch to a 2-2 tie. The Grizzlies got one late in the first to take a one-goal advantage after seven minutes were in the books. The scoring came in all shapes and sizes, from an Obert backhand one-touch finish to floaters and powerful tosses from long range. After a Josh McCormick goal leveled the contest for Del Oro at the 5:12 mark of the second stanza, Granite Bay pound home three goals in just over a minute to take a 6-3 lead. James Vigeant scored two of those three Grizzly goals, and also scored another in the final second of the half to give Granite Bay a 7-4 advantage. Del Oro’s J.T. Roe scored three minutes into the second half to cut the margin to two goals, and then Granite Bay goalie Zack Meyer made one of the biggest plays of the match. A Grizzly foul gave Obert a five-meter penalty toss, but Meyer turned aside the powerful shot to maintain the lead at two. Del Oro outscored Granite Bay the rest of the third to enter the final stanza down just one goal at 8-7, and when Leland Delehanty saved a point-blank shot to keep the game right there for the Golden Eagles, it looked like Del Oro was ready to surge into the lead. Goals by Mitchell Kobayashi and Andrew Murch stemmed the momentum for Granite Bay and put the lead back at three, an advantage that Granite Bay would never relinquish. “The difference was that we are a more well-balanced team than DO,” MacLeane said. “My goalie and two-meter defender played huge. Del Oro is very good and I would expect that they have an outstanding chance to be in the section championship game.” Obert scored four goals to lead Del Oro, and the Grizzlies were led by four from Vigeant and three from Murch. The second-place Golden Eagles play their first section playoff game at 4:45 p.m. Friday at the RAC, and Granite Bay has a first-round bye before getting back in the pool at 1 p.m. next Saturday. “I think that Granite Bay plays with very solid fundamentals especially defensively and moving off the ball,” said Del Oro coach Dave Obert. “We will have to more closely match them in this area to beat them at sections. They are a very good team and clearly the favorites to win DII sections, which is a real testament to their coach.”