It sure was nice to be on top again.
The Modesto Junior College men's water polo team beat Sierra 13-8 on Thursday to win for the first time in two weeks.
The victory is a relief as Modesto avoids heading to the Cuesta Tournament in San Luis Obispo winless in the Big 7 Conference.
"We needed some momentum," coach Eric Fischer said.
After winning the Ohlone Tournament on Sept. 22, the Pirates (10-7, 1-3 Big 7) lost three games in a row.
Rather than trying to overpower the Wolverines, whom Modesto had defeated 15-5 at the Ohlone Tournament, the Pirates found a soft touch could be an effective way to get ahead Thursday.
Eric Scudder ended the third period with a goal lobbed three-quarters of the way across the pool to give Modesto a 10-7 lead. Not only did it put Modesto ahead three goals, the shot sucked some wind out of Sierra.
"I practice full-court shots every day," Scudder said. "I can usually at least hit the goal. You have to aim high. Most shots are fired in on a line. Lobs go in a lot more, though. And a lot of people don't expect that."
Scott Bryant bounced a goal past Sierra keeper Jarret Haley for the the Pirates' 12th goal.
For Modesto's final score, Daniel Hunt batted the ball away from a Wolverine defender, sending the ball floating into the net before Haley could get to it.
Fischer said he was happy with the way his team played, especially in the fourth period when Sierra was held to one goal. He said Andrew Pederson, who was one of four players with three goals, did a particularly outstanding job.
The victory also gave Modesto hope of staying in the playoff hunt. After this weekend, Modesto has two conference games before the Big 7 Tournament. Fisher said the Pirates have to win at least one of those to make the tournament.
Women's Water Polo
MJC 9, SIERRA 4 -- The Pirates held Sierra scoreless in the fourth period while distancing themselves with three goals. Coach Kurt Olson said the finish was something he'd been hoping to see from his players.
"We have a tendency of getting good leads and then falling apart in the fourth quarter," Olson said. "Sierra was grabbing and pulling, which is fine, but we usually roll over on that stuff. We responded with physical play. That was huge for us."
Olson said answering the Wolverines with toughness, and not just speed, was the result of facing so many good Southern California teams this season.
The win came just one day after Modesto (13-5, 4-1 Big 8), ranked seventh, lost to third-ranked American River.
"To get a five-goal win in our league is incredible," Olson said. "Sierra is a perennial powerhouse. We're in control of our own destiny, which is nice."
Top Sierra player Simone Jackson was held to one goal, primarily defended by Michaela Solorio, who also scored one for Modesto. Katie Griffith led the Pirates with three goals.
BULLDOG OUT -- Ripon's Ryan Machado, a sophomore linebacker at Fresno State, is out for the season with a knee injury sustained against Nevada on Saturday. Machado had seven tackles, including four solo, in three games this season.