Water polo — Tigers wrap up summer season going 1-3 at the Nike Open Water Tournament

SWEET HOME — Still a young and inexperienced group after graduating a deep and talented senior class this spring, the Chehalem girls water polo team changed things up to close out its summer season.

The Tigers took to choppier waters at the 2nd Annual Nike Open Water Tournament July 15-17, going 1-3 on ad hoc “pools” on Foster Lake near Sweet Home to place eighth out of nine teams in their division.

“The kids enjoyed themselves having the whole camping and lake experience,” said assistant coach Cari Blanchard, who led the team on the trip. “I thought that went really nicely and as a coach, I thought it was fun to coach at a venue like that, that was different from your typical indoor pool.”

With such a green team, gaining experience and developing skills have been priorities for Chehalem this summer and the open-water setting, where the courts were marked by ropes and docks and featured floating goals, offered a new challenge.

The Tigers opened with 10-2 loss to Blue Crush that saw Tia Lattanzio score both goals and Mikayla Kloss make 10 blocks in net.

Despite being sick, Kloss helped her team bounce back to beat Lake Oswego 12-7 by recording 16 blocks. Elizabeth Andrews led the offense with four goals. Lattanzio, Remy Saunders and Rachael Seymour added two goals apiece, with Kenidy Gay and Victoria Johnson each scoring once.

With Kloss feeling a bit better on July 17, Chehalem played well in a 4-1 loss to Golden Valley, Calif. Kloss saved 21 shots, with Saunders notching the lone goal.

The Tigers then fell 8-1 to Rain City to close out the tournament, getting their goal from Lattanzio and 11 blocks from Kloss.

“I remind them that it’s not all about wins and losses,” Blanchard said. “Winning is great, but for me as a coach and the other two coaches, it’s a matter of playing good water polo and they’ve come a long way since this spring. They’re getting there.”

A 1997 Newberg High School graduate, Blanchard played for head coach Jim McMaster before competing for University of the Pacific in California. She coached for spells in California and Oregon after graduating and looking to get back after being away from the sport, came on board as an assistant last fall.

“It was a good close to our summer season,” Blanchard said. “Hopefully, they’re ready to come back in August for fall and are able to take some of that stuff with them.”

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