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Wolves can't stay with defending champs

The Tualatin teams play Newberg tough, but the Tigers come away with the sweep on Monday
by: JAIME VALDEZ, HOLD IT HIGH — Tualatin’s William Dai holds the ball up in the Timberwolves’ Pacific Conference match with Newberg Monday at the Tualatin Swim Center. Newberg came away with the victory.

TUALATIN - Newberg is the defending state champion in both boys and girls water polo. By the looks of things, the Tigers are ready to defend their titles.

Tualatin found that out Monday when Newberg handled the Timberwolves 11-4 in the girls game and 19-5 in the boys game at Tualatin High School. The Timberwolves kept close in both through halftime, but a seasoned Tigers team, with many players that compete year-round, was able to pull away after the intermission.

'We have a few year-round players, but 99 percent of their team is,' Tualatin junior Nick Kish said. 'That added experience definitely helps to know where to pass to and where somebody's supposed to be.'

While victories are hard to come by against the Tigers, there was still much to play for against the state's best.

'We get pumped up,' Kish said. 'It's always the big game of the year. It helps to have them in our league. We get to play them and know them and figure out where we're at.'

Through the first half of the boys game, Tualatin found itself not that far behind. The Timberwolves scored two goals in the final minute to draw within 9-5 before being shut out in the second half of the 19-5 loss.

'I told the kids if we play a perfect game and they don't, we could be right there,' Tualatin coach Russ Alvarez said. 'Newberg's 17th in the nation. We're top-4 in the state and here's the huge difference.'

That became apparent in the second half when the Tigers closed on a 10-0 run. Nine of Newberg's 12 players scored in the game, led by reigning state tournament MVP Keary Schlactus' five goals.

'You have to be heads up all the time and keep an eye on the ball,' Alvarez said of playing Newberg. 'They kept getting shots from two to three meters. We were allowing their offense to get the ball inside, so they got the drives.'

Schlactus had a pair of goals as Newberg took an early 2-0 lead. Tualatin got on the board when William Dai set Kyle Carpenter in the two-meter spot and Carpenter scored with a nifty backhand whip inside the left post. Newberg scored twice before Kish gunned in a 12-meter shot to make it 4-2 after one period.

Newberg bumped their lead to 7-2 when the Timberwolves fought back into the game with a trio of goals. Tigard's first score came on a set play out of a timeout where Kish tossed to Chet Schuster on the left side from mid-pool. Schuster briskly redirected the ball inside to Austin Coupe for a quick fling into the right side of the cage to cut the Tigers' lead to 7-3.

After Schlactus' fourth goal of the game, Tualatin closed with consecutive goals. Garrett Sturgeon excited the Timberwolves' faithful with a 12-meter shot into the top right corner of the cage. Kish matched his teammate, raising into the air and firing a stop into the right side from near midcourt with four seconds left in the first half.

'When we play Newberg, it's huge in our minds,' Kish said. 'I don't want to give up, even if its 19-5.'

While the Timberwolves fought throughout, Newberg pulled away in the second half with seven different players scoring the Tigers' 10 goals.

It was much of the same in the earlier girls game as Tualatin overcame a 5-0 first-period deficit with three goals in the second, only to be outscored 6-1 in the second half of the 11-4 loss.

Junior Adrienne Cheney had eight of Newberg's goals, including four in the first quarter to help the Tigers jump out to the early lead.

'We were guarding her well on the ball side, but they were able to move it around and get it inside to her,' Alvarez said.

Tualatin reversed its fortune in the second period, outscoring Newberg 3-0. Emily Dolbeer scored the Timberwolves' first goal with a hard shot off the goalkeeper's arm and into the cage.

Two minutes later, Jessica Medvec's nice flip over the keeper allowed Maggie Alexander to swim in to quickly push the ball across the goal line to make it 5-2. Tualatin continued the run when Sarah Hunter collected the ball in the hole set, swam to the right side with a defender hanging on her and flipped a shot over the keeper where it dropped and floated inside the left post.

'It was a lot easier for us to drive in the deep end,' Dolbeer said. 'We were looking for each other a lot more. We kind of came back but we lost it again.'

Cheney's goal made it 6-3 midway through the third period before Dolbeer gunned a shot from the right side into the top left corner of the cage. But Cheney scored twice more in the quarter as Newberg pulled away and Tualatin never got back on the scoreboard.

'In our process of shooting, we like to watch the shot to see if it goes in,' Alvarez said. 'At the same time, (Newberg's) gone in the other direction. They've got the experience, but our girls don't give up. They just need to learn to not watch and instead react.'