Tualatin girls open the playoffs with shutout wins

by: DAN BROOD - TOUGH ON DEFENSE -- Tualatin sophomore Ashley Elisara (9) puts the pressure on South Salem's Sabrina Kelly during Friday's state playoff game at Tualatin Hills. The Timberwolves scored a 14-0 victory. BEAVERTON — It’s no secret.

The Tualatin High School girls water polo team has let it be known since early in the season that they’ve set their sights on winning the Class 6A state championship.

Now, after a pair of dominating postseason victories, the Timberwolves are now only two wins away from reaching that lofty goal.

Tualatin stormed into the semifinals of the Class 6A Oregon State Tournament after scoring a pair of shutout postseason victories Friday at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District Swim Center.

“We want the state championship,” Tualatin senior goalie Kate McDonnell said after the Wolves scored a 14-0 win over South Salem in a state playoff game Friday morning.

“That’s been our goal since last year (when Tualatin lost 15-6 to Newberg in the state championship game),” Tualatin sophomore Zoe Linford added. “We’ll make it happen this year.”

Unbeaten Tualatin, which scored a 15-0 win over West Metro League runner-up in a tourney quarterfinal game later on Friday, will face Reynolds in a state tournament semifinal game this Friday, starting at 7:20 p.m. at the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis.

If the Wolves, who have played in the past five state championship games, defeat Reynolds on Friday, they’ll play either Lincoln or Barlow for the state title Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at the Osborn Aquatic DAN BROOD - SPLASH ATTACK -- Tualatin sophomore Zoe Linford (left) battles a South Salem player for the ball in Friday's playoff game.

“We’re capable,” McDonnell said. “We know we can do it.”

Tualatin certainly must have made believers out of South Salem in this past Friday’s playoff opener.

Linford, after coming up with a steal, got the ball to Tualatin junior Madison Berggren, who scored on a short-range shot to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the seven-minute first quarter.

Tualatin struck again just 22 seconds later, as junior Marisa Lovos scored off another assist from Linford to make the score 2-0.

Linford then notched a goal of her own. After taking a long outlet pass from McDonnell, she scored on a breakaway to give Tualatin a 3-0 advantage with 5:22 left in the first quarter.

Lovos, Linford, Berggren and sophomore Ashley Elisara all scored in a span of 2:14 later in the opening quarter, giving Tualatin a 7-0 lead with 1:37 remaining in the period.

South Salem had what looked to be a prime chance to get on the scoreboard when Amanda Bednarz was awarded a penalty shot with 24 seconds left in the first quarter. But McDonnell blocked Bednarz’ attempt to keep the score at 7-0.

After that, Elisara added another goal, coming with eight seconds left in the period, to give Tualatin an 8-0 lead going into the second quarter.

The Wolves weren’t able to score in the second quarter, but, thanks to McDonnell and their defense, South Salem didn’t, either.

McDonnell blocked five Saxon shots in the period, including back-to-back follow-up attempts by Bednarz with 1:07 left in the quarter, to keep the Tualatin lead at 8-0 going into halftime.

The Wolves got goals from Lovos and freshman Rachel McWhirter to open the third quarter. McDonnell blocked shots by South Salem’s Mackinsey Belden and Amelie Davis later in the period to keep the Tualatin lead at 10-0 going into the fourth quarter.

by: DAN BROOD - WALL OF DEFENSE -- Tualatin senior goalie Kate McDonnell makes a save during Friday''s state playoff win over South Salem. The Wolves then continued to pull away in the final stanza.

Linford scored on a breakaway off a pass from Berggren, after she came up with a steal and then Berggren scored off an assist from sophomore Kailey Lenneham to up the lead to 12-0 with 2:41 remaining in the contest.

Linford and Berggren then each scored again in the last minute of the game to make the final score 14-0.

“We felt good about this,” McDonnell said. “We played all together as a team.”

“We wanted to come out and play hard,” Linford said.

Berggren and Linford led a balanced Tualatin scoring attack in the victory with four goals apiece. Lovos had three goals and Elisara scored two.

Meanwhile, the Wolves seemed to be thrilled with getting the shutout on defense.

“We played good defense, and we have the best goalie ever,” Linford said, referring to McDonnell. “She’s amazing.”

“Our defense shut them down,” McDonnell said.

The Tualatin defense, and McDonnell, picked up another shutout later in the day with its 15-0 state quarterfinal victory over Sunset.

The Tualatin boys split their first two games to open postseason play.

First, the Wolves scored a 13-7 win over Sheldon in a state playoff game played Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District Swim Center.

Later on Saturday, Tualatin was edged 16-9 by Southridge in a state tourney quarterfinal match played at Tualatin Hills.

The Timberwolves will be back in action Friday when they’ll face David Douglas in a state tournament consolation game starting at 8:40 a.m. at the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis.

If Tualatin wins on Friday, it will play either Sunset or Lincoln in the state tournament fifth-place game to be held at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at the Osborn Aquatic Center.

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