The Johansen boys water polo team was in an unfamiliar position on Friday behind.
Not only that, but Modesto Metro Conference MVP Corey Plaster had picked up his third ejection midway through the second quarter and was out of the game.
That's when Grant Plunkett took over. The junior scored all five of his goals in the third quarter to lead Johansen to a 9-6 win over Lincoln in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. 1 playoffs at Johansen.
"When you lose your MVP after just a quarter and half, everyone kind of freaked out a little bit," Johansen coach Brent Bohlender said. "We had to focus more. Our second-leading scorer stepped up and played one of his biggest games of the year."
Plunkett took advantage of man-up situations and got out in transition for some easy scores that helped turned the game around.
Plaster gave the Vikings (26-4) an early 3-2 lead with his second goal with 6 minutes, 21 seconds left in the second quarter. But he was ejected a short time later and the Vikings' offense stalled.
"He's our hole defense and our hole-set on offense," Plunkett said. "He's big on both ends. When he's gone it hurts a lot."
The Vikings responded by outscoring the Trojans 5-0 in the third quarter behind Plunkett.
Tuesday, Johansen faces St. Mary's, who beat the Vikings 9-6 earlier this season.
Merced (25-3) will join Johansen in the quarterfinals. The Bears defeated Del Oro 14-10 behind Brett Fogelberg's five goals.
In other action, Granite Bay beat Beyer 20-3, Tokay beat Atwater 13-6, Davis routed Buhach Colony 20-5 and Oak Ridge beat Downey 15-3.
MJC WOMEN LOSE The Pirates earned another draw their eighth this time with visiting Diablo Valley, in a 1-1 finish. Modesto's Stephanie Carmona scored off of an Eliana Da Silva assist. Elizabeth Amaya had six saves.
CSUS WOMEN LOSE UC San Diego (18-6) easily outpaced the Warriors 25-15, 25-19, 25-13. The No. 24 Tritons (18-6, 13-3 CCAA) won their seventh straight to stay one game behind CSU San Bernardino the Warriors' opponent tonight. The Warriors (7-17, 4-12 CCAA) were led by Jennifer Marsh's 10 kills.
MJC SWEEPS Modesto beat Cosumnes River 3-0 25-20, 25-19, 25-19, thanks in part to 17 kills and 10 blocks from Jamie Beck.
ENOCHS 3, WEST 2 Enochs (22-11-2) advanced in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a 25-19, 25-17, 18-25, 18-25, 15-9 win. Jessica Gilbert had 11 kills and 4 aces while Kelsey Kamiya had 13 assists.
BULLDOG CLASSIC In singles, players from Division I teams beat the Div. II Warriors as Davina Meza and McKenzy Harden lost to Cal Poly's Gabby Gatewood and Haley Kepler and Rymma Maslova (Nevada) and Anne Susdorf (Fresno State) defeated CSUS's Jessica Stokes and Kelsey Chrisco.
SANCHEZ AT ITF Modesto's Maria Sanchez defeated Sachia Vickery 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (1) at the International Tennis Federation event in Toronto on Friday. Sanchez will face Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski in the quarterfinals.