HANFORD — Sierra Pacific remained undefeated in the East Sequoia League after pulling away in a 15-12 victory against Mission Oak on Tuesday.
Megan Bairstow equaled a game-high five goals and helped spark the Golden Bears in the second quarter. Leading 4-3 at the end of the first at the Hanford West pool, the Hawks (11-12, 4-2 ESL) scored the next two goals to take the lead.
The Golden Bears (6-0 ESL) responded with a 5-0 run over the final five minutes and eight seconds of the quarter to take a 9-5 lead into halftime.
“We’ve kind of been starting out a little slow typically,” Sierra Pacific coach Jessica Bean said. “We didn’t panic we just knew that we needed to continue to play our game and keep taking shots and we knew that it would balance out. We felt good about where we were at.”
During the run, three different Golden Bears scored, including Bairstow who scored three times in the hole. All five of her goals came in the hole as she asserted herself in the water.
“I know how to turn my girl and so that really helped,” Bairstow said. “My coaches have really worked with me on this and this is something that I’ve been working on. My offensive players also know when to set it to me and give me the ball which also helps get us some goals.”
Two of the team’s scores came on man-up opportunities. Isabella Tomas, who finished with three goals, scored the first on 4-meter shot from straightaway and Rylee Lord scored the second after swinging the ball on the perimeter.
“The pep talks and the motivation we try and give the younger girls,” Tomas said about the turnaround. “My main thing for this team is to keep negativity out of everything. I always try and stay positive and I think that’s what really helps us when we’re not doing good in a game.”
Sierra Pacific was efficient on man-up opportunities scoring on a total of four of them on Tuesday.
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It was the turning point of the match as the Golden Bears never trailed again. The defense was a big reason for the turnaround and it continued into the third quarter where they outscored the Hawks 3-2. Sierra Pacific entered the fourth quarter with a 13-7 lead.
“Defense is our biggest strong point,” Bean said. “We work on defense a lot. We talk about obviously being able to swim fast first and then second being able to play good defense and then third the offense will come. That’s totally our mantra and how we work on things.”
Their defense drew an ejection to start the fourth quarter and led to a counter on their next possession. Both resulted in goals with Emily Phelps scoring on the man-up situation and Tomas finishing out in front on the counter.
The Golden Bears built up a 15-8 lead before the Hawks scored a couple of goals in garbage time, but the margin of victory was larger than the final score showed.
“We have strong shooters all throughout, so it’s just a matter of them having confidence and taking the shot when they’re open, which is something that we’ve been trying to brush up and work on heavily at practice,” Bean said.
Sierra Pacific killed two man-up opportunities for the Hawks in the first quarter and another in the fourth. The Golden Bears’ help defense was huge in turning steals into counters and effective offense.
“Defensively, I felt our man-ups we could still brush up there’s still some stuff we can work on, but we did have some good key blocks,” Bean said.
Lord finished the game with three goals, Hanna Loya scored two and Delaney Winters had one. The victory also keeps the team in first in the ESL and on pace to capture a league title.
Sierra Pacific has its next league game against Granite Hills scheduled for next Monday at 6:30 p.m.