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Hawks ready to move up

Southridge's girls are ready to take their shot at Metro prominence
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, GIVING CHASE — Aloha's Kaitlin Purple (left) and Southridge's Jessica Nanry go after the ball in the third quarter of the Skyhawks’ 11-1 Metro League win over the Warriors on Tuesday afternoon at Beaverton Swim Center.

BEAVERTON - A year after finishing 5-7 in the Metro League, the Southridge girls water polo team has established itself as the squad to beat.

The Skyhawks did nothing to refute that Tuesday, handily defeating Aloha 11-1 at the Beaverton Swim Center. With the victory, Southridge eclipsed last year's league win total and sits atop the Metro standings at 6-0.

'Our team is the same as last year's. We just became more confident,' Southridge senior goalkeeper Liz Keithley said. 'It's all about having confidence in your ability to play.'

The Skyhawks showed that and more Tuesday, shutting out the Warriors all but the final 1 minute, 30 seconds with a suffocating defense and solid play out of Keithley in the cage.

Southridge's offense also caught fire in the third quarter, turning a 3-0 halftime lead into a comfortable 8-0 cushion heading into the final period.

'We've come together,' Southridge coach Ryan Chiotti said. 'The girls have been playing pretty well. That was a big game.'

Aloha, last year's state runner-up, fell to 3-3 with the loss and is fourth in the Metro standings at the season's midway point.

'They have a good goalkeeper and a great offensive player,' Aloha coach Kevin Bebb said. 'They're definitely the team to beat in the Metro.'

Despite being double-teamed most of the night, Southridge senior standout Lisa Gibson led the team with six goals, capping her night with all three Skyhawk goals in the fourth quarter. Her score 30 seconds into the game gave Southridge a 1-0 lead it would not relinquish.

Junior Melany Krill made it 2-0 when she waved the ball over her head before firing an 8-meter shot off the deep-end goalkeeper's fingertips and into the top-left corner of the cage early in the second quarter. Gibson added a goal for a 3-0 halftime lead.

Southridge blew the game open in the third period with Boonyapa Purt scoring the first three of the Skyhawks' five goals in the quarter. Purt made it 6-0 when she took a long pass from junior Megan Funkhouser and found herself all alone on the left side where she gunned in a shot between the keeper and the left post for the goal.

Gibson added a backhanded whip into the right side of the cage for a 7-0 lead and Funkhouser capped the period with a close-in goal with four seconds remaining.

Keithley maintained the shutout with an array of stunning saves throughout the game. Aloha sophomore Lidia Kusnadi looked to break the scoreless drought midway through the final period when she got in close on the right side. But Keithley popped the shot into the air then grabbed the ball for the save.

Gibson followed with a pair of goals before Keithley was tested again. And again she turned away a close-range shot, this time making the stop of a throw by senior Jessica Wooden.

'I watch the ball more intently now,' Keithley said. 'I'm always on it and see where it is going.'

Keithley also was aided by an active defense that often kept the Warriors from taking a shot on many of their possessions.

'I love my defense,' Keithley said. 'They are the best. That helps. You can rely on them if you don't have it.'

Keithley had it all game, but Aloha managed to break through with 1:30 left in the contest. Kusnadi secured a loose ball on right side and passed in to Wooden, who grabbed the ball out of the grasp of the keeper and a defender and quickly tossed in the Warriors' lone goal.