The Tulare Union boys water polo team knows what it feels like to reach a Central Section championship match and come up short.
The Redskins are hoping history doesn't repeat itself this season.
They'll get their chance at redemption Saturday.
No. 2 Tulare Union defeated No. 6 Redwood 12-7 in a Central Section Division II semifinal match on Wednesday in Tulare to reach their second straight final.
Last year, the Redskins came up just short, losing by one goal to Garces in the Central Section Division III final.
"We've gotten a lot more mature," Tulare Union's Erik Schlick said. "We were almost all sophomores last year and this year we're juniors. It is great to grow together. We have clicked a lot better. We have all grown together and we're a really strong team."
The Redskins will play No. 1 San Joaquin Memorial on Saturday. Time and location have yet to be determined, but it should be at one of the Clovis high schools.
"We lost to Garces by one goal with about five seconds left on a close call," Schlick said. "We don't want that to happen again ... We don't want a repeat of that."
The Redskins had a goal of playing for a Central Section championship but they knew they would have their hands full against the Rangers and weren't looking ahead.
Schlick led the way with a five-goal performance.
It was some in-game adjustments that allowed Schlick to break through the Redwood defense.
Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively in the first quarter. The Redskins broke through with a goal by Austin Moules with just 14 seconds left in the first.
But things started to open up in the second quarter. The Redskins scored four goals in the period, including three by Schlick, and took a 5-3 lead into halftime.
"What happened was they were doubling down on Trevor De Leeuw," Tulare Union coach Bill Freeman said. "When they did that, we couldn't get anything going. We brought Erik down to the hole set and they didn't have an answer for it."
De Leeuw added three goals for the Redskins, and Bryson Wilborn, Erick Pederson and Nic Orton each chipped in with one goal. Goalkeeper James Keen finished with 10 saves.
"There was a huge difference," Schlick said about the pace of the game once the Redskins made the change. "We had a lot of confidence in the guys on top. We knew they could shoot and if needed, they could pass it to me. It kept Redwood from being able to guard us tight."
Redwood, which pulled a minor upset by knocking off No. 3 Hoover to reach the semifinals, took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Sam Peckinpah with 3:27 left in the second quarter.
But Tulare Union scored five unanswered goals to take control of the match. Redwood found itself chasing 3-4 goals all night and could not put together a comeback bid.
"I'm not disappointed in how we played," Redwood first-year coach Major Rogers said. "I'm disappointed in the outcome, yeah, but Tulare has some horses and a deep bench. By the seeding, we knew it would be uphill. But I'm proud of the effort of my team today and this season. We'll be back."
Peckinpah led the way for Redwood with two goals. Landon Silvas, Nick Gonzalez, Kyle Corsigny, Jason Adlard and Kyle Rizzo each added one goal. Goalkeeper Jarrett Jones had 12 saves.
"It was a bit of a downer at the end because most of our losses came at the end of the season," Rogers said. "We had three losses in league, but that's better than Redwood has done in a while. I had to remind my boys that we had a heck of a team and had a great season. I was very happy with the season we had."
Redwood's season is over, but it goes on for a determined Redskin squad.
"We've had a lot of confidence going into the season, "Schlick said. "We moved into a higher division and that was scary, but good because we wanted to be challenged. We knew that we'd have to grow and be better. We've lost a couple of games, but those have been confidence checks to make us know what we are striving for and that's a Valley ring."