OAKDALE -- Garrett Porter never gave much thought to playing water polo before he arrived at Oakdale High as a freshman.
"I figured I'd play football, but I decided I wanted something different," the junior said. "I never played water polo, and I thought it might be a lot of fun to try."
Three years after the decision, Porter is still playing water polo and still having plenty of fun.
The goalie turned in one of his top performances of the season on Tuesday, limiting Ceres to three goals as Oakdale won 17-3 in the Modesto Metro Conference boys' opener.
Tyler Lee and Peter Siemsen scored four goals apiece for the Mustangs, who hope to improve on last year's third-place finish.
"We have a lot of the team back from last year, and we were good enough to make the playoffs, so we've got a shot at winning it," Porter said. "We've got speed so we can attack with a fast break, or we can pass it up the pool."
Oakdale was scoring in a variety of ways Tuesday, with eight Mustangs putting it in the net.
Porter's presence in the goal allows his teammates to take more risks on the offensive end, since they know he won't be intimidated should a foe counterattack.
"I was a field player as a freshman, but played goalie when our starter was gone or if we were in a tournament and playing a lot of games," he said. "I enjoyed it, having people try to shoot past me. You've got to forget about how much the ball might hurt if it hits you and just focus on keeping your body in front of it."
While Oakdale is a Valley Oak League school, it plays water polo in the MMC -- as does Ceres -- because its league doesn't have the sport.
Porter says the program will continue to flourish with a pool coming to campus. The district is building a $2.3 million aquatics center adjacent to the gym and the football stadium. It should be open in fall 2010.
The pool will be 25 yards wide and 34 meters long, allowing 14 lanes of racing across the width -- 25-yard pools are standard for high school events. Much of the pool will be 7 feet deep, making it convenient for water polo, too.
MODESTO 13, DOWNEY 6, at Modesto -- Quinton Bailey had a season-high seven goals, spreading his offense throughout the match, and the Panthers pulled away to win the MMC opener.
GIRLS WATER POLO
OAKDALE 14, CERES 8, at Oakdale -- Jessica Carwin, Alysa Parker and Fallon Clipper scored three goals apiece as the Mustangs used their balanced attack to win the MMC opener.
ATWATER 7, LOS BANOS 5, at Atwater -- Keziah Brigham made sure the Falcons opened Central California Conference play with a victory, posting 12 saves as teammate Megan Russell scored three goals.
DOWNEY 4, ENOCHS 0, at Enochs -- Nick Cash had a goal in each half and the Knights (2-0 MMC) posted their second consecutive shutout with Canek Ambriz in the goal. Downey opened the MMC with a 1-0 upset of defending champ Modesto.
LIVINGSTON 2, HILMAR 2, at Hilmar -- Livingston goalkeeper Alonso Lara scored on a free kick from midfield, but the Yellowjackets rallied for a late goal and the draw in the Western Athletic Conference opener. With the Wolves up 2-1, Jordan Bettencourt's free kick deflected off a defender and Jonathan Sousa outran the keeper to the ball. Sousa flicked it into the net with 10 minutes left.
PATTERSON 9, ORESTIMBA 0, at Newman -- The Tigers (8-2, 1-0 WAC) showed they have plenty of offense, as Gustavo Molinda celebrated a hat trick in the first half and Rodrigo Aldana scored twice to increase his Stanislaus District-leading total to 18 goals.
BEYER 4, JOHANSEN 3, at Beyer -- Katie Ballentyne, usually a doubles player, got the word at the last moment that she was playing No. 4 singles. The late notice didn't bother her, though, as she won 6-4, 6-2 to lift the Patriots (2-1 MMC). The regular No. 4 player caught her finger in a car door just before the match.
DOWNEY 5, DAVIS 2, at Davis -- If you like tennis, this was the place to be, as the Knights prevailed in an MMC meeting that featured four three-set matches. Downey won three of those four matches, and No. 1 singles Jordan Flora won 6-3, 6-4.