Lakeridge boys polo pushes Newberg into OT before falling 8-7
This one just about had it all.
Monday's Newberg at Lakeridge boys water polo game featured a repeat of last year's state championship, a match-up between two unbeaten Three Rivers League leaders, and best of all, an overtime thriller that the Tigers eventually won 8-7 at Lake Oswego School District Pool.
"We're really close teams," said Lakeridge junior Thomas Gooding, who scored once in his team's loss. "They only graduated one senior last year and we graduated two, so we are both strong teams this year with a lot of upperclassmen."
"We were amped up," added Lakeridge senior Cole Dennett. "It was close last year and we knew it was going to be close this time."
It was indeed close, almost impossibly so.
The Pacers opened the game at a sprint, scoring three times in the game's first 4 minutes and 10 seconds to lead 3-0, those scores coming from sophomore Torin Ferguson, junior Brody Veater and senior Grant Lautze.
But Newberg awoke itself there and matched the Pacers 2-2 in the rest of the opening quarter, with the Tigers getting scores from Dane Findley and Nathan Waldal, and Lakeridge answering with goals from Lautze and Ferguson to give the Pacers a 5-2 edge.
But Newberg cranked up the defensive pressure and shut out the Pacers in both the second and third quarters, eventually keeping Lakeridge off the scoreboard for 13 minutes and 27 seconds. The Tigers used a 3-0 advantage in the second quarter — on goals from Waldal, Raleigh Day and Grant Stilp — to tie the contest 5-5 at the half. Lakeridge slowed the Tigers in the third quarter, though, allowing only a single score from Waldal and entering the fourth quarter down just 6-5.
The Pacers then used their own defense to great effect in the fourth quarter, stopping the Tigers cold and tying the contest at 6-6 on Lautze's goal from the left side 1:24 into the period.
Lakeridge also had two chances to win in regulation, with Dennett's shot stopped by Newberg goalie Wilson Johnson with 20 seconds left, and Gooding's last-second attempt from mid-pool missing right.
In overtime — a six-minute period divided into two three-minutes halves — Lakeridge struck first, taking advantage of a man-up situation when Dennett passed to Gooding on the left side. From there, Gooding angled a shot past Johnson to the right post to give the Pacers a 7-6 lead with 1 minute, 15 seconds to go in the first half of OT.
But Newberg took control in the second half of overtime, getting a steal from Day and — after an ejection to Lakeridge's Oscar Flourier Alvarez — a goal by Zach Jordan. Jordan scored from five yards out, throwing the ball past one Pacer defender and skipping it by goalie Nathan Bloom to the left corner with 2:05 to go in OT.
Then, after Lakeridge failed to score at the other end, Newberg's Stilp connected on a backhanded shot from the left side that pushed the Tigers' lead to 8-7 with 1:12 remaining to play.
Newberg stifled the Pacers' ensuing possession thanks to a steal by Waldal, ran the clock down to 15 seconds before turning the ball over to Lakeridge, and from there, the Pacers' Gooding missed left with five seconds to go and escaped with the dramatic win.
"Really, the only difference in that game was a couple of lucky skips. That's how close the game was," Gooding said. "They got a couple lucky shots and we didn't get a couple lucky shots. It's that simple."
"We're going to play them two more times before the end of the season, most likely, so we have a couple more chances to win," Dennett added. "We just have to control the ball and be slow and methodical. Don't rush anything."
For the game, Newberg's Waldal led the way with three goals, while Dane Findley and Jordan added two each. For Lakeridge, Grant Lautze scored three times while Torin Ferguson added another two.
With the loss, Lakeridge fell to 4-1 in Three Rivers League play and 9-1 overall. The two teams will meet again in the TRL regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Chehalem Aquatic Center.