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Pacers lead 7-1 early, then hold on to win as the Tigers rally in the second half.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lakeridge senior Collin Parker takes a shot during his team's 10-8 win over Newberg at Lake Oswego School District Pool on Wednesday, Sept. 29.It doesn't matter that it was September.

It doesn't matter that it was Wednesday.

None of that mattered.

When the Lakeridge and Newberg boys water polo teams get together, it's time to stop and watch.

That was certainly the case on Wednesday, Sept. 29, when the Pacers hosted the Tigers at Lake Oswego School District Pool in a rematch of the past three state championship games.

By the time the waves had settled, Lakeridge had used its fast start and gritty finish to edge past Newberg 10-8.

"Newberg is kind of our rival and it's always fun to beat them," said Lakeridge senior Sean Davitt, who led his team with four goals in the win. "Newberg always puts up a great fight and we always enjoy beating them."

"It's been a rivalry for many years," said junior Rocco Lepiane, who added two goals in the win. "It's important to beat our division rivals and it was a fun game."

With the win, the Pacers improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 7-1 overall. The Tigers, meanwhile, fell to 0-1 in TRL action and 8-6 overall.

"We got off to kind of a slow start, but things started to pick up at the end," said Newberg junior Mateo McKay, who tied for team-high scoring honors with three goals. "I really think that this team has a lot more room to develop and I think that next time, it will definitely be a game to see."

"We really needed to take advantage when we were a man up and put our shots away and know where our defenders are," added junior Grant Waldal, who also scored three times. "We just needed to put more of the shots away."

Lakeridge 10, Newberg 8

Early on, the Pacers were dominant, leading 4-1 at the end of the first quarter and stretching that advantage to 7-1 with 3 minutes, 22 seconds to go before halftime. Davitt connected twice late in the first period, Lepiane hit twice in the second and senior Collin Parker took a Lepiane pass and scored from point-blank range for that six-goal lead.

Newberg, however, did not go away.

The Tigers, winners of five of the past six official state championships, added two scores from junior Mikey Mesneak late in the first half to cut the Pacer lead to 7-3 and they carried that momentum into the second half.

Following a Davitt goal that pushed the Lakeridge lead to 8-3 early in the third quarter, McKay scored twice in 1:34, and after that, Waldal took a pass from freshman Asher Stone and connected in a man-up situation to bring his team within 8-6 at the end of the stanza.

The Pacers made sure that the Tigers got no closer, however. Lakeridge freshman Tyler Dunn scored from the right side early in the fourth quarter, and after Waldal hit for Newberg, Davitt took a Lepiane pass and hit a spinning backhanded shot for a 10-7 lead with 5:17 left on the clock.

Waldal hit again — this time off a Mesneak pass — with 2:46 to go, but Lakeridge ran out the clock from there to win.

"In a lot of our games, we have been slow to start this year, but I think tonight we were committed to coming out strong and really establishing dominance in the first quarter," Davitt said.

On their side of the ledger, the Tigers — who forced a 16-2 edge in ejections — believe they can and will beat the Pacers in the future.

"I think we definitely are going to come into the next game and we're going to come a lot harder, a lot more fired up and I think it's going to be a great game," McKay said. "I think we can come away with it if we work our hardest."

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