6A water polo — Young, inexperienced girls squad is 4-0, while the only blemish on the boys record is a tie vs. two-time defending state champion Southridge

Newberg’s water polo teams are off to encouraging starts after both emerged undefeated from a busy opening-week schedule.

While the Tiger girls cruised to four easy victories over David Douglas, Southridge, South Eugene and Beaverton, the boys faced a pair of tests against the two-time defending state champion Skyhawks and a scrappy Axemen squad.

Lead by Craig Beecher’s four goals and five steals, the Tigers routed David Douglas 15-5 at home Sept. 3, setting up a Sept. 5 showdown at Southridge. by: SETH GORDON - Alena Lidey Lam (above) lines up a shot during Newberg's 14-2 win over Beaverton Monday night at the Chehalem Aquatic Center. Lidey Lam led the Tigers with four goals.

Newberg seized control of the game with aggressive early play, which netted them a 5-2 lead after one quarter.

The Skyhawks countered by moving one of its top players from the field to play goalie and after that the game settled down. The two rivals battled back and forth for the rest of regulation, finishing in an unsatisfying 11-11 draw.

Beecher nearly scored the winner for the Tigers in the final seconds of regulation as his shot beat the Skyhawks goalie only to hit the post.

Spencer McMaster led the effort with six goals, four steals and four earned ejections, with Beecher adding three goals and Corbin Day two. Kyle Hansen blocked eight shots in goal.

It took Newberg a couple of periods two wake up during its early-morning match Saturday at South Eugene, whom the Tigers may have overlooked a bit.

Although the visitors turned things around in the second half and went on to earn a 10-7 win, they were consistently thwarted by the opposing keeper, who was the primary reason the Axeman stayed close until the end. McMaster scored a team-high four goals, with Beecher, Day and David Flores Juarez netting two goals apiece.

The Tigers showed their defensive chops early on in Monday’s 17-2 victory over Beaverton at the Chehalem Aquatic Center. Newberg dominated possession by intercepting just about every Beavers pass or getting steals one on one. Beaverton didn’t get off its first shot — on which it did score — until over midway through the second quarter.

It took the Tigers just over five minutes to get on the board themselves, as the Beaverton keeper stuffed numerous one-on-one chances from point-blank range following breakaways. Newberg eventually slowed things down and worked its offense, rattling off six goals in just under three minutes to stake a 6-0 lead after one quarter.

“They were too intense at the beginning, they were too excited,” head coach Jim McMaster said. “They needed to calm down and play the game. Once they did, they were fine.”

The Newberg girls were never threatened in any of their contests, beating David Douglas 14-4, Southridge 14-0, South Eugene 12-3 and finally Beaverton 14-2.

Victoria Johnson scored a total of 13 goals in the four games, during which the Tigers took periods off from shooting. Alena Lidey Lam poured in 12 goals and Elizabeth Andrews 10, but McMaster plans to build the team around defense.

That starts with goalie Grace Brockie, who is the team’s most experienced and savvy field player, but agreed to be the last line of defense for the betterment of the team.

“She is a good field player, but she understood she could really help in that role,” McMaster. “I really respect her for that.”

With no seniors and just two juniors, Newberg is still a young team and despite the early success, won’t know where it really stands until they play Tualatin during the Tigers’ home tournament Friday and Saturday.

“This weekend, we’ll see how good they are,” McMaster said. “We’ll see how they play against girls that know how to play. If they play as a team and start thinking, they’ll be fine.”

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