Rally lifts NHS to overtime win
Although goalie Grace Kavanagh stopped Westview starter Olivia Centis' shot from point-blank range to record her 20th save of the night Monday night, she and the rest of the Newberg girls water polo were pretty much sunk when the ball ricocheted directly out of bounds.
That's because with just 17 seconds remaining in overtime, Westview would retain possession and would be able to run out the clock to preserve a huge season-opening 7-6 victory.
Luckily for the Tigers, the Wildcats left a crack in the proverbial door by taking a shot with six seconds remaining in regulation.
It was just a sliver of an opening, but it was enough for Kavanagh.
Newberg called timeout with five seconds left and Kavanagh put the ball in play with a quick pass to Stella Byles, who was set up to draw a quick foul in order to free her up for an open shot, but did not appear to have enough time and opted for a return pass back to the senior goalie.
Kavanagh collected the pass and arced a shot into the upper lefthand corner of the goal, hitting the vinyl backing just a moment before the buzzer sounded to knot the score at 7-7 and force overtime.
"My freshman year we played West Albany and Kat (Reichenbach), our senior, she scored a buzzer beater like that from half (court), except it was already tied in that game, so we won," Kavanagh said. "I was thinking about her scoring that buzzer beater and it went in."
The Tigers struck first in overtime as Paris Boileau collected the rebound from a MacKenzie Russell shot that hit the crossbar and wisely dumped off to a wide-open Jordan Trantham for an easy finish and an 8-7 lead just 35 seconds in.
The game had been tightly contested from start to finish, so it was no surprise when the Wildcats, last year's 6A sate runner up, responded just 59 second later as Westview lobbed a pass over the top to Centis, who had gotten behind the defense and scored easily from short range to make it 8-8.
Kavangh, who finished with a career-high 26 saves, had to bail the Tigers out once more to force double overtime, this time registering a save with just three seconds remaining following a costly NHS turnover.
Westview had a few scoring chances early in the second overtime, but Newberg scored first after turning the ball over and quickly stealing it back. In the scramble, Trantham got open and her transition goal made it 9-8 with 1:08 to play. The lead lasted just 22 seconds, as Alexa Cahalone scored from long range for her third goal of the contest.
Following another Westview steal and Newberg recovery, the Tigers called timeout with 30 seconds remaining and drew up a play for Trantham.
Centis had been wreaking havoc on the Newberg offense all night with excellent ball pressure, especially on the perimeter, but she was not on Trantham, who waited for a teammate to drive through to create some space.
Suddenly offered plenty of room to maneuver, the junior received the pass and fired past the Westview goalie to make it 10-9 with 21 seconds remaining.
Kavanagh delivered one more save on the ensuing possession to wrap a thrilling win to open the season.
"These past couple of weeks we've definitely been conditioning more than we've been playing water polo and that really came out in overtime," Kavanagh said. "We were able to out swim them."