Lakeridge boys polo drops heartbreaking 9-8 decision to Newberg
Chances to beat the Newberg boys team in water polo don't come along very often.
And that's what made Lakeridge's 9-8 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday, Oct. 2, so painfully hard to take.
The Pacers, hosting Newberg in Three Rivers League action at Lake Oswego School District Pool, led the Tigers by two goals with just over two minutes remaining to play in the fourth quarter, but they couldn't hold their advantage.
Newberg scored three times in the final 2 minutes, 3 seconds of the contest, eventually getting the game-winner from Osmand Evans with just 8 seconds remaining on the clock. The Tigers have also beaten Lakeridge in each of the past two state championship games.
"We were up by two, so on defense, we just needed to keep our hands up, but we didn't," said Lakeridge senior Brody Veater, who led his team with four goals in the loss. "That's how they scored. Mistakes. It was all of our mistakes — that's the reason that they scored."
"Honestly, I think we're the better team and I think if we could play them tomorrow, I would," said Lakeridge senior Thomas Gooding, who added two third-quarter goals against Newberg. "I don't care where and I don't care if it's in the lake — I would play them anywhere."
"I thought the defense was pretty good actually — we had good steals, good hands — but they kept getting past us and that's what got us," added senior goalie Mitchell Parker.
With the loss — Lakeridge's first of the season — the Pacers fell to 11-1 overall. Newberg, meanwhile, improved to 13-0 on the season.
Defense ruled in the game's first quarter, with Newberg's Evans scoring off an assist from Alexander Touzeau with 2:39 left in the period, and Lakeridge's Veater taking a pass from junior teammate Torin Ferguson and scoring with 45 seconds remaining to tie the game at 1-1.
Lakeridge pushed in front 2-1 when senior Yeldar Daniyarbekov made a steal, passed to Ferguson and he set a up a fast break goal by junior Anthony Wang 36 seconds into the second quarter — but it wouldn't last. Newberg answered with two Nathan Waldal scores, the first with 4:36 remaining in the half and the second from 12 yards out to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead with 2:32 to go before the break.
The two teams then battled through a punch-and-counterpunch third quarter that saw the Pacers push ahead by two goals, but eventually settle for a 6-6 tie at the end of the period. Lakeridge's scores came from Ferguson (on a Veater pass 40 seconds into the quarter), Gooding (on an 8-yard shot 1:30 after Ferguson's goal), Veater (on a hard shot that skipped into corner of the Newberg goal with 3:30 left in the quarter) and Gooding (on a man-up goal assisted by Veater for a 6-4 lead with 2:51 to go).
Newberg, meanwhile, got an early score from Grant Waldal (on a man-up chance assisted by Nathan Waldal), another Grant Waldal goal (from the right side on a pass from Evans with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter) and a late score from Michael Mesneak (from point-blank range in another man-up situation in the quarter's final second to tie the game at 6-6).
There was even more drama to come in the fourth quarter, with the Pacers getting two unanswered goals from Veater to take a two-score lead, both hard shots that skipped past Newberg goalie Nick Helikson, the second of those with 3:54 to go in the game for an 8-6 lead.
Defensively, Lakeridge got steals on each of Newberg's first three possessions of the fourth quarter, survived four Newberg shots on the possession after Veater's second score, then saw a point-blank shot by Grant Waldal ricochet off the right side of the Pacer cage.
But Lakeridge's good fortune wouldn't last. First, Newberg's Ty Patterson took a Nathan Waldal pass and hit a tough angled shot from the right side with 2:03 left in the game. Then, after each team turned the ball over, Nathan Waldal powered a shot past Parker to tie the game 8-8 with 39 seconds left on the clock.
On its ensuing possession, Lakeridge tried to force the ball inside, but lost possession to Helikson with 24 seconds to go. After a timeout with 20 seconds remaining, Nathan Waldal passed the ball from the right side to Evans and he scored from close range with 8 seconds to play.
At the other end, Veater's last-gasp shot with 3 seconds left skipped off the water and out of bounds to end the contest.
The Pacers, as disappointed as they were with the loss, left determined to get better and get ready for their Oct. 21 rematch with the Tigers at Newberg's Chehalem Aquatic and Fitness Center.
"After this loss, we're not going to be undefeated, but no one's going to work harder than us, no one's going to play harder than us and we're just going to come out there with an intensity that no one's ever seen before," Gooding said.
"It lit a huge blazing fire under our behinds," Veater added. "From now on in practice, we're going to work on the lazy mistakes that we made in the game today … (and) we're going to work a lot more on legs and just get as good as we can."
Nathan Waldal led Newberg with four goals, while Grant Waldal and Evans added two each.
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