Barlow girls water polo finish state runners up
The top girls water polo team in the state found itself in unfamiliar waters — after three quarters they were facing a daunting deficit.
Not much was going right for No. 1 Barlow girls water polo, as they sought a second-straight state title against No. 3 Lakeridge Saturday, Nov. 12, in Corvallis. And for a moment, it felt like the Bruins were going to complete the impossible.
Down seven goals midway through the final frame, the Bruins uncorked a ferocious comeback bid. Seniors Olivia Schubert and Julia Schmidt both scored, and then freshman Makayla Riegelmann found the back of the net on a breakaway steal. But despite the moxie, the Bruins ran out of time.
"It was a hard fought battle," said Coach Michael Riegelmann. "The season led to this moment, this phenomenal effort. We just fell short."
Barlow settled for runners up after losing 11-7 against Lakeridge.
Things felt off for the Bruins throughout the night. They made uncharacteristic turnovers, and had several promising shots ricochet off the post, including five in the fourth quarter. That, coupled with heroic play from the Pacers junior goalie Evelyn Miller, led to the loss.
"Coming into tonight I knew we had the best goalie in the state, and that we could play through her and rely on her to make plays," said Lakeridge Coach Aukai Ferguson.
"As a team we have been training so hard to get to this point," he added, still wet from a victory plunge into the pool.
At the start of the fourth, down just five, Barlow star senior Tess Henke, the reigning Mt. Hood Conference player of the year, scored a twisting flipshot that got the crowd roaring to its feet. The goal was her second, after a similarly impressive score in the first, and it felt like she might take the reins on a comeback. But a few plays later Henke was ejected from the contest — accumulation of "major" fouls — that left both Henke and her coaches visibly frustrated with the officials.
After the final whistle, there were some tears and comforting hugs for the Bruins.
"As a program you are always standing on the shoulders of those who came before," Riegelmann said. "These seniors put in a great four years, and have left their legacy."
Path to the championship
Leading up to the championship game, the Barlow girls were leaving opponents treading water in the opening rounds of state.
After an opening bye, Barlow beat No. 8 David Douglas 20-5, and then topped No. 4 Lake Oswego 19-11 in a hotly contested semifinals bout. Lakeridge made it to the title game after surviving a 12-9 double overtime thriller over No. 2 South Eugene.
Barlow boys take fourth
The state tournament followed the rankings for the No. 4 Barlow boys, as the Bruins finished fourth in the bracket. They trounced No. 13 South Salem 17-1 in the first round, and then beat conference rival No. 5 Grant 10-7.
"In that game they played out of their minds," Coach Riegelmann said with a smile.
Barlow was sent to the runners-up bracket after losing to eventual state champion No. 1 Lake Oswego 16-9, and they lost their final match 18-8 against Lakeridge.
"We don't have any seniors leaving the program, so we can come back together as a team and build on this for next year," Riegelmann said.
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