Andrew Pedersen has peaked just in time for the Modesto Junior College men's water polo team.
His strong play the last month has helped propel the Pirates into a Northern California playoff play-in game against visiting Sierra today at 4 p.m.
"When he scores an early goal, the whole team starts playing better around it," coach Eric Fischer said.
Modesto has defeated Sierra twice this season, 15-5 and 13-8. Pedersen leads the Big 8 Conference with 34 goals, one more than Merced College's Devyn Rocha.
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Pedersen, a sophomore center from Turlock, said there was a week this season he wasn't in top form. He had a lot on his mind, mainly his five academic classes.
"I felt out of shape," Pedersen said. "I was there physically, just not mentally. I finally started managing my time better."
Things got better in the classroom and in the pool. The Pirates (13-12, 2-4 Big 8) won themselves one last chance at the playoffs with a 13-12 come-from-behind victory over Diablo Valley last week.
Modesto's Cody Alkire leads the conference in steals (48) and shares the lead for assists (22) with teammate Daniel Hunt.
MJC 4, COSUMNES RIVER 0 -- Lucero Villasenor scored twice and assisted on another goal in the Pirates' eighth shutout. Goalkeeper Dana White had two saves for Modesto (13-3-3, 6-4-2 Big 8).
MJC 4, WEST HILLS 2 -- Martin Molina scored twice in the first half as Modesto (10-4-3, 4-1-1 Big 8) built a 3-0 halftime lead in the nonconference game.
MJC 3, SANTA ROSA 1 -- After losing two of three matches over the weekend, the Pirates thought their playoff chances were done. That changed after the spirited Pirates defeated No. 6 Santa Rosa (17-2, 6-3 Big 8) 34-32, 24-30, 30-22, 30-27.
Elizabeth Gutierrez led Modesto (15-8, 5-4 Big 8) with 50 assists and 19 digs. Stephanie Doerksen recorded 18 kills.
CSU STANISLAUS, at Kohala Coast, Hawaii -- Andy Moren of Stanislaus lost a three-way playoff for the championship at the Dennis Rose Intercollegiate Invitational on the Mauna Lani north course.
Kyle Hopkins of team champ Sonoma State won the playoff after he, Moren and Sonoma's Jacob O'Keefe finished at 2-under-par 214. Moren shot a 74 on Tuesday.
No. 11-ranked Stanislaus (872) took second place, seven shots behind No. 3-ranked Sonoma State. Erick Justesen, the Warriors' No. 1 player, shot 77 to finish at 220 in a four-way tie for seventh as the Warriors concluded their fall season.