A timeout did the Lodi High boys water polo team good.
That helped slow down a Lincoln squad that gained offensive momentum in the fourth period of a Tri-City Athletic League game at Tokay’s swimming pool on Wednesday. Lodi found its scoring ways again to post a bone-chilling 14-12 win over the Trojans to start the second round of league action.
The victory moves Lodi (4-2 in the TCAL, 13-5) and Lincoln (4-2 in the TCAL) into a tie for second place. The Flames and Trojans each still have to play defending league and Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion St. Mary’s (5-1 in the TCAL).
Lodi now holds the tie-breaking criteria based on goal differential; Lincoln beat Lodi 15-14 at the Trojans’ pool on Sept. 17. Wednesday’s victory by two goals put Lodi as the league’s No. 2 representative for the playoffs should it and Lincoln end the regular tied. The Flames had to win Wednesday’s game by two or more goals.
The Flames, who held an 11-5 halftime lead, held to a 12-10 lead with 3:53 left in the game when Lodi coach Dan Christy called a time out. Before the time out, Lincoln had already scored three goals. The Flames held a 12-7 lead after three periods.
Then the score went to 12-11 when Lincoln’s J.J. Baynard, shooting from the outside at the 2-meter mark, fired the ball into the corner of the Flames cage with 3:21 left on the clock.
“We just wanted to get the momentum back,” Christy said. “It was just a matter of us adjusting. That’s why it got to be so close at the end.”
But Lodi iced the game had the ball with 2:59 left in the contest. The Flames’ Victor Plunkett, a junior who scored six goals in the game, worked his way to the center of the Trojans’ cage for a goal for a 13-11 score. This was one of the few times he had a shot in front of the cage, as the Trojans’ defense doubled-team him through most of the game. Plunkett, who took many outside shots on goal in this game, took a pass from teammate Braden Endter and threw the ball into the corner of the net for the goal.
For an encore, Plunkett — who has 116 goals this season — fired a right-handed backhand shot, also in front of the Trojans’ cage, with 1:05 left to make it 14-11. Lincoln’s Jacob Van Grouw scored with eight seconds left in the game for what would be the final score.
In the third period, Lodi and Lincoln’s defenses that became tighter within 5-meters, led to limited shots on goal. Lincoln outscored the Flames 2-1, but Lodi still led 12-7.
Lodi bent the Trojans’ zone defense that led to many scoring opportunities in the second period. The Flames’ Eli Kim drove the length of the pool for two of his three goals that helped Lodi hold a six goal halftime advantage.
Both times in the period, Kim went 1-on-1 with Lincoln goalie Erik Clark, as Kim delayed in throwing the ball to draw Clark out of the cage. That’s when Kim fired his shots into the back and left corners of the cage for his goals.
“We adjusted in the second quarter to their M zone,” said Christy, referring to the Trojans’ defensive formation set up in the 13th letter of the alphabet.
During that time, Lodi scored five goals — one by Plunkett (six goals in the game), two from Kim and two more from Seth Hillstrom. That led to the 11-5 halftime score.
“They are all great players,” said Christy of his players. “We came through.”
After Lincoln’s Owen Sherman scored at the start of the second period to cut into the Flames’ lead at 3-2, Lodi went on its scoring tear.
The Flames swam to a 3-1 lead in the opening period. Kim, Jackson McDonald and Plunkett each scored a goal.
Kim had four assists and Endter finished with two for the Flames. Hillstrom had two goals.
At the cage, Lodi goalie Sam Meyers had nine blocked shots and four steals from his post.
“He did a great job,” said Christy of Meyers. “He came out of the cage and knocked the ball away.”
Girls: Lincoln 7, Lodi 1
Hannah Wilson scored the only goal for Lodi (4-2 in the TCAL, 6-5) in Wednesday’s game. Flame goalie Lydia Campbell had eight saves.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.