Aiyana Evans is making up for lost time.
The Lodi High girls water polo player established some fond memories against Tokay’s squad. That led to Lodi posting a 9-8 double overtime win over Tokay in a Tri-City Athletic League contest at the Tigers’ swimming pool on Thursday.
This was the second TCAL overtime game that Tokay has played in two weeks. In the league opener, also at its own pool, against Tracy on Sept. 17, Tokay’s Katie McLain had a goal in sudden death to quiet the Bulldogs 5-4. The game was tied 4-4 after two overtime periods and four periods.
In Thursday’s game between Lodi and Tokay, the game was tied at 6-6 after four periods. Tokay’s Mira Patino tied the game with 59 seconds left in the fourth period in front of the cage, as time ticked off the shot clock.
Lodi (4-1 in the TCAL, 6-4) had its chances to take the lead after Tokay (2-3 in the TCAL, 2-5) when Elisa Grim had a shot on goal with a no-look backhand shot. But the ball went outside of the cage.
Then Evans and Flame teammates Grim, Lily Kim, Madison Rishwain, Elizabeth Decko, Hannah Wilson and goalie Lydia Campbell turned up the heat on defense in the pool against the Tigers. The result was holding Tokay scoreless during the first overtime period.
But the Tigers’ Mira Patino, Sophie Smith, Sirena Ortiz, Hannah Ortiz, Mackenzye Dunn, Katie McLain and goalie Alanna Stoops were also forceful against the Flames’ offense that led to being held scoreless for two minutes of the first OT.
“I feel we did a very good job shutting them down,” said Tokay coach Shelby Seabaugh. “Defensively, I was very proud of our girls.”
Then Evans took a shot with 47 seconds left in OT that gave Lodi at 7-6 lead. Wilson also takes credit for the goal with a pass to Evans before the shot.
“Tokay’s defense was dropping into the middle to help on some of our girls, but I was able to find an opening,” said Evans of her go-ahead goal. “Hannah (Wilson) and I made eye contact, and she made a beautiful pass to me for that shot.”
Lodi coach Robert Elrod added, “They just know where each other is going to be.”
Evans and Wilson have known each other since kindergarten. They’ve also played sports together for the past decade.
“We always know where the other person is in the pool,” Evans said.
Evans is enjoying this season. A series of medical problems led to Evans not playing water polo as a junior last year, but was on the squad as a sophomore in 2017.
“I really missed playing, so it feels amazing to be back in the water,” said Evans, a three-sport athlete who has been a three-year starter on the Lodi High girls basketball team and competes on the school’s girls track and field team. “I enjoy how fun the game is to play and I love having amazing friends in the water with me.”
Sirena Ortiz had a shot on goal in the final seconds of OT, but Lydia Campbell came up with the save to send the game into the second OT period. In high school water polo — girls and boys — if one team scores in the first OT period and the other team doesn’t score, the game goes into a second OT. The first two OTs each are three minutes.
Ortiz scored a goal for the Tigers just 16 seconds into the second overtime to tie the game again at 7-7. But 14 seconds later, after Ortiz’s goal, Wilson, standing in front of the cage while surrounded by Tiger players, took the shot that went into the corner of the cage for the goal and an 8-7 Lodi lead.
As an added bonus, Wilson scored again, thanks to a Lodi steal, almost in the same spot as her first goal. That gave the Flames a 9-7 lead.
Stoops, from just a few meters away from her own cage, fired a shot that landed into the corner of the Flames’ cage for a goal and what would be the final score. The goal, however, came when there was no time left on the clock.
Elrod and Seabaugh figured that the game against the other’s team would come down to defense. Lodi covered McLain, Patino and the Ortiz sisters from shooting throughout most of the game. But after most of the Flames’ goals during regulation, Tokay quickly responded with goals that led to the tie.
“Defensively, we had some assignments that we missed and Tokay took advantage of that,” Elrod said.
Seabaugh added, “Defensively, I was very proud of our girls.”
Boys: Lodi 19, Tokay 10
Victor Plunkett scored early and often for Lodi (3-2 in the TCAL, 12-5), which led 16-5 entering the final period. Plunkett, only a junior, had 10 goals and five assists.
“He’s just a go-to guy,” said Lodi coach Dan Christy of Plunkett. “I think this is his fourth or fifth 10 goal game of the season, which is a lot of goals for one kid.”
Plunkett scored four goals in the first period that helped the Flames built a 6-1 lead over the Tigers. Lodi teammates Shane McKay and Seth Hillstrom each had a goal in the period. Tokay’s Eric De Santiago scored the lone goal in that same time frame.
Lodi increased its lead to 10-3 at halftime. Plunkett scored from standing in front of the cage to a right handed backhand shot for two more goals, giving him six in the first 14 minutes of play. McKay and Hillstrom each had one in the second period. Tokay’s Cylas Riley had two goals in the same period.
Other Lodi scorers in the second half were Plunkett and Eli Kim, who finished with four. Kim also had five steals and Plunkett four.
Tokay’s other scorers were Omar Baez, Riley, Nate Bonham and Nathan Larson.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.