Panthers beat Wolves in polo

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 20, 2012 

Both of Pacheco's water polo teams look at Livingston's first-year program, and they see themselves a year ago.

And both teams had different reactions to wins over Livingston on Monday -- the Pacheco boys won 15-5, and the Pacheco girls won 23-11. Pacheco's girls coach, Jill Brooks, sees an improving team that has become more rounded.

"We're asking them to play varsity, when realistically they should be a JV team," Brooks said. "I have five that have played before, and they're up against girls that have played three or four years? When you put that in perspective, you realize they're really good.

"I don't have any seniors, so we're only going to get better. They're just going to get stronger and stronger."

At the beginning of the season, virtually all of Pacheco's offense ran through hole set Olivia Andrade. And while Andrade scored 14 goals against Livingston, more and more players are getting involved -- Vicky Ramirez scored 6 goals, Savannah Verderber added a pair and Abigail King scored once.

"It went from, 'Olivia can do it if I just get her the ball' to 'Oh, I can do it,' " Brooks said. "I told them other teams will shut her down, they'll play three on her. So all along they've known they would have to step up. It's just amazing to see them actually do it. I'm just so proud of them."

Andrade and fellow captain Nicole Ketchum, two of the more experience players, have taken a vocal role in team leadership and team unity. The two captains, along with Verderber, Ramirez and goalkeeper Paris Hernandez, form the core of the group left from last year's junior varsity team.

"They played as a JV, so at least they have the gist of the game," Brooks said. "Those five really had to step up and be team leaders. Whether they wanted it or not, that's their new role."

Boys team respectful

The Pacheco boys, trailing Los Banos and Ceres in a race for the Western Athletic Conference title, remembered where they were a year ago when they mounted a lead on Livingston, and eased up on the gas pedal.

"We didn't want to put them in the same position our team had been in in the past years, with scores like 30-2," Pacheco coach Josh Weinberger said. "We wanted to be respectful."

Anthony Juarez and Gabriel Andrade led the attack, scoring three goals each. Brian King, Colton Taylor and Jacob Simon each added a pair, while goalkeeper Spencer Heaton blocked 12 shots to keep the net fairly undisturbed.

But with Livingston behind them, the Panthers are ready to go lead-footed again.

"It's anybody's game right now. If LB beats Ceres, we still have a chance to tie for first place," Weinberger said. "We're always going to be fighting for second or third, so we need to keep the fight on. There's no reason to give up."

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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