It was a dream regular season for the Pacheco boys water polo team, with a run through the Western Athletic Conference to snag the school's first playoff spot in any sport.
But former league foe Ripon offered a rude welcome to the next level of competition with a 17-2 rout Thursday afternoon at Woodcreek High in Roseville.
"They were up by 5 goals pretty quick. They were much faster than us," Pacheco coach Josh Weinberger said. "Our guys just didn't have their heads in the game -- it wasn't like the Los Banos game. They just kind of lost spirit toward the end of the game."
Daniel Judson gave Pacheco its first goal in the first quarter, and Brian King was the only other Panther to score. Both goals came from inside the 2-meter line.
"Daniel managed to get inside the 2 and kind of tucked it into the goal without really shooting," Weinberger said. "And Brian managed to do the same thing."
Ripon and Pacheco both played in the Valley Foothill League last year, a combination of the WAC and the Valley Foothill League for water polo. With Livingston's program starting this year, the two leagues split.
Ripon won the VOL this year, while Pacheco earned the second seed from the WAC. Weinberger says the team already has the foundation to build upon.
"The teamwork, and the cooperation we'll bring back," he said. "I'm real proud of how far these guys have come from where they started this year. They've surprassed everybody's expectations."
With the loss behind them, the Panthers are already looking inward to find what will make them successful at the next level.
"I think it's a great experience for them, because now they know they can make it," Weinberger said. "Now we're trying to get to the playoffs every year. The conditioning has to come up."
The Los Banos girls water polo team opens the playoffs Saturday against El Dorado at at Whitney High School in Rocklin.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org