Gemelas helps Ducks at nationals
With the Oregon Ducks water polo game tied 8-8, Sophie Gemelas, of Madras, buried a shot, helping the team win the Women's National Collegiate Club consolation finals game on May 6.
A 2015 graduate of Madras High School, Gemelas, daughter of Jim and Michele Gemelas, is in her junior year at the University of Oregon, where she is double majoring in journalism and cinema studies.
Gemelas was part of the 2014-15 Madras state championship water polo team, and went on to play club water polo at the University of Oregon.
"I felt nervous going into the tournament," said Gemelas. "I had never been to nationals before and I knew most of the team had never been either."
On May 4, at Mt. Hood Community College, the Ducks water polo team started the tournament against the No. 1-ranked University of California-Davis. Gemelas, who mostly plays her games as a defensive player, tied the game at 1-1 with five minutes left in the first quarter. UC-Davis scored three goals before the end of the first quarter.
The Ducks lost 13-5 to a team that would go on to be the Women's National Collegiate Club champions.
Since the No. 19 Ducks had lost, they moved to the consolation bracket, where they faced No. 18 Texas A&M. The University of Oregon won 15-7, also on May 4, moving to their next game against Cornell on May 5.
The Ducks never trailed in the game, taking a 4-2 lead at halftime. The team had a dominant third quarter, scoring five goals, compared to Cornell's zero. Gemelas scored a goal with one minute, 21 seconds on the clock, as the game came to an end, helping the Ducks earn a 12-6 victory.
The Ducks then faced the No. 8-ranked Penn State in the consolation finals game. The game was Penn State's 13th National Collegiate Club Championship appearance since 2001.
The Ducks were down 7-6 heading into the final quarter, when Penn State scored another goal with 4:42 left in the game.
Oregon kept fighting and scored two goals, tying the game 8-8 with a little more than two minutes left to play. With the game tied, Gemelas scored a goal with 1:56 left, giving the Ducks a 9-8 lead. Gemelas' goal sparked the Ducks team, giving the team momentum to score two goals in the last minute and 30 seconds.
"I felt relieved because somehow I knew that we would be able to seal the deal because we had more endurance than Penn State," Gemelas said. "As soon as that next goal was scored, I felt like we had a solid handle on the outcome and we ramped up our defense to secure the win."
The Ducks upset Penn State 11-8, winning the consolation bracket and placing ninth. Gemelas ended the tournament with three goals.
"A couple of my teammates scored and we just ramped up our defense, playing our game instead," Gemelas said. "We really kept our defense consistent and did not let them score. My teammate, Anna Neufeld, had a really good tournament, and so did Katie Hansen."
"I thought that the team performed incredibly well considering how young we are. I was very focused on defense, more so than offense, because I wanted to make sure the top line had room to break away when we earned our turnovers," she said. "I'm very excited for next season; we will have a lot of returning players".
Gemelas was recently named to the Scholar-Athlete team by the Collegiate Water Polo Association for finishing the 2017-18 year with superior honors.