By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Harrison Bedford’s goal with 2 seconds remaining Wednesday night lifted Ukiah to a thrilling 7-6 victory against Cardinal Newman, thus sinking the Cardinals’ playoff hopes in boys water polo.
Despite the loss in the regular-season finale, Newman coach Steven Skinner was able to find a silver lining.
“Being at that high tempo the whole time (Wednesday), is a good example of improvement over the year,” Skinner said.
The Wildcats weren’t at their best offensively, but it was a good learning experience, coach Rick Cleland said.
“We’ve had some games where we can kind of impose our will on other teams,” Cleland said. “We had lots of opportunities, but Cardinal Newman shot better.”
As the season comes to a close for the Cardinals, the young team can take solace in the belief that brighter days lie ahead.
“The fact that we have a very young team (playing) well together, it’s only going to get better year after year,” Skinner said.
Newman finished 8-10 overall and 2-2 in the Redwood Empire League. The Wildcats finished 2-4 overall and 2-2 in league.
For Newman goalie Brock Bauer, the ability to keep pace with a team as competitive as Ukiah means the potential is very high for the Cardinals, he said.
“Good things are in the future for Newman water polo,” he said.
Bauer finished with 16 saves in his first year as goalie.
Jack Stafford led the Cardinals with three goals Wednesday, followed by Zach Peterson with two and Devin Farber with one.
Teak Larwood led the Wildcats with three goals. Bedford had two, and Shane Oswald and Beau Franzen each contributed one.
Following the boys’ game, Ukiah’s girls team pummeled the Cardinals 22-1.
“We have a lot of swimmers, and if we can get out into open water we are pretty successful,” Cleland said.
The Cardinal girls can only continue to grow, coach Christina Messer said.
“Just keep working on our fundamentals, which we don’t have to start from ground zero anymore,” Messer said. “Some of these girls I even taught how to swim.”
The Ukiah girls are headed to the North Coast Section playoffs, and senior Mariah Larwood can’t think of a better way to end her high school water polo career.
“I’ve been able to keep my head above water and see the game in a way that’s clear and precise,” Larwood said. “The first year, you’re just trying to stay alive.”
Julie Kennedy had the lone goal for Newman. Maggie Selzer led Ukiah with six goals, Sophia Hamilton recorded five, and Larwood notched four. McKenzie Shutz and Sarah Dolan both had two goals, andZoe Lazaro, Kiley Silver and Jackie Rhodes added one goal apiece.
The Wildcats finished 5-5-1 overall and 4-0 in league. Newman went 5-12 and 2-2.