Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat

Up 5-2 after the first quarter, Sonora Wildcat goalkeeper Kahale Warring would not let their rival, the Oakdale Mustangs, mount a comeback in a Valley Oak League water polo match.

The Mustangs fired 22 total shots at Warring, but the 6-foot-4-inch junior denied 16 of them to help lead the Wildcats to a 13-6 winon Tuesdayat the Sonora Sports & Fitness Center pool.

"We been rivals with Oakdale for so long," Warring said. "They've always been one of our big competitors through the years. They've beaten us a lot in the past, and it feels good to start getting them."

Sonora Wildcat head coach Matt Personius was impressed with Warring's solid outing.

"He stepped up really well this year," Personius said. "The goalie that he replaced was very good. And Kahale is doing a great job filling those shoes. ... I just feel like the sky's the limit for him with his athletic ability, his quickness, his ability to get out on the ball. He does some really good things. His passing is really good. He's very consistent that way. He's got great reflexes."

With Warring playing in form and strong in front of goal, the Wildcats defense shutout the Mustangs in the second quarter to take a 7-2 lead into halftime with goals from Kyle Proctor, Ian Burkhart (2), Gabe Runte, Spencer Lyons, Owen Ragland and Michael Proper.

"I thought our defense did great," Warring said. "They were super strong because they pressed out very well and for the most part had their hands up on six-on-fives."

But Oakdale would not go away easily in the second half.

After Runte beat the Mustang goalkeeper in a race to the ball, he rifled it into an open net to extend the Wildcats' lead to 8-2, but the Mustangs scored back-to-back goals in under a minute to cut the lead in half, 8-4.

"I felt like we came out playing pretty well in the beginning," said Personius, who is in his eighth year. "We kind of got sloppy for a couple of quarters. One of our problems is consistency as a team. Learning to play well consistently, whether you're talking about offense or defense, is a problem for us still. But the focus on the end of the season here is to play a four-quarter game."

Ragland added a goal in the third and fourth quarter to cushion the Wildcats' lead to 10-4.

Then Bence Bognar, a senior foreign exchange student from Hungary, and his left arm took over on offense.

Bognar powered three goals in the fourth quarter after struggling to find his rhythm early to put the game out of reach for the Mustangs

"I started the game very badly," Bognar said with his native accent. "But it was a good atmosphere to play at home, so I tried my best and at the end of the game, I felt I could score at home. ... I'm a lefty, so sometimes it's hard for them to block it."

As a team, the Wildcats fired 30 shots at goal and scored in every quarter. Seven different players chipped in a goal.

"The offense, sometimes we played the six-on-five good, but we did have some mistakes," Bognar said. "But I think we played well today."

The Wildcats improve their VOL record to 2-1 and will next play onOct. 17at Ripon.

"I'm happy with the win," Personius said. "We played pretty well for some quarters, and it shows that we got some stuff to work on, but overall a pretty decent performance."

For the varsity girls,goalkeeper Bethany Smith was a standout, blocking 13 shots, but it was not enough as the Wildcats fell to Oakdale 11-4.

Wildcat Ruby Personius put Sonora on top early with a shot into goal at the5:42mark in the first quarter. But Oakdale answered back with five straight goals to kill any Wildcat momentum.

Sonora scored twice in the second quarter with both goals from Ruby Personius. Josie Personius contributed a late goal in the fourth quarter.

"It was a tough one for us," Matt Personius said. "It was an even game. I feel like skill for skill we can match up with them, but we made some errors. When we made errors they capitalized on us. They're more effective that way. If we're on our game, we're playing well, I feel like anybody can win that game."