Newberg girls polo powers past Lakeridge 26-14
Oregon's high school athletes are learning — and learning fast — that they need to get the most out of every chance they see in 2021.
So that's just what the Newberg and Lakeridge girls water polo teams did on Tuesday, May 4, with the Tigers dominating the game's middle two quarters to beat the Pacers 26-14 at Newberg's Chehalem Aquatic Center.
"I think we played really well," said Newberg's Natalie Kisling, who scored six goals in her team's victory. "This was the hardest game of the season and I think we (came) into it really strong."
"During the game, we went in strong … and kept going, kept pushing through," said Nikki Rubottom, who led her team with 12 goals in the win. "Even though we got a few goals scored on us, we kept pushing. It just ended really good for us."
With the victory, the Tigers improved to 6-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the Three Rivers League. Lakeridge, meanwhile, lost for the first time and fell to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the Three Rivers League.
While disappointed with the loss, the Pacers learned a lot and did some good things against the Tigers, winners of two of the past three state championships.
"I thought we did a really good job keeping our intensity up the whole game," said Lakeridge's Cascade Stensland, who led her team with seven goals. "I felt like everybody was pushing through all the quarters; there was no quarter where everybody was being lackadaisical."
"The girls are tremendous at helping me keep my spirits up so I am able to feed off their energy and stay positive throughout the game," said Pacer goalie Evelyn Miller, who made 12 saves in the contest. "It got frustrating, but I was able to push through it."
The two teams battled on nearly even terms in the first quarter, with Stensland scoring twice for the Pacers, while Rubottom broke out for four goals and teammate Maddie Smart added another to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead.
Lakeridge doubled its offensive output in the second quarter — with Stensland scoring twice more while teammate Sophia McCarty added two of her own — but it didn't matter. Newberg caught fire and poured in nine goals to extend its lead to 14-6 at halftime.
Rubottom and Kisling led the way there, with Rubottom racking up five scores and Kisling two, with teammates Maddie Morse and Hailey Day scoring once each.
Already solidly in control, the Tigers then tacked on an 8-4 edge in the third quarter that pushed their lead to 22-10 and Newberg coasted home to victory. Kisling did most of the damage there, scoring four times to help the Tigers pull away; also scoring were Day (twice), Rubottom and Morse.
"This game was exciting knowing that it was going to be a tougher game," Kisling said. "Even though we won by a lot, it was still really fun … We have six seniors who have been playing together all four years of high school so we've all gotten used to each other and learned our strengths and weaknesses and we are able to move really cohesively in the water."
"We had a lot of communication — that's what we've been practicing on and that got us through the game," Rubottom said. "We kept saying we had to keep talking and it worked."
The Pacers tried to hang close behind three more Stensland scores and one from Jamie Lawley, but on this day, it was not enough. In the fourth quarter, Lakeridge's Ella Ferguson stepped up with two scores while McCarty and Lawley added one more each.
"Everybody really tried hard and gave their all the whole time," Stensland added. "I think we were consistent with our plays and we always found new advantages and how we can run this differently that helps somebody else be the shooter or helps somebody else out."
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