It aint easy, but Sunset avoids Beaver upset bid

Sunset escapes a furious Beaverton comeback to win 7-5 on Monday
by: MILES VANCE, WATER WAR — Beaverton’s Cody Hannan defends against Sunset’s Jordan Zehner on Tuesday afternoon.

CEDAR MILL - Time and time again, Sunset's boys water polo team has proven itself one of the best in the Metro League.

And after Tuesday's 7-5 victory over Beaverton at Sunset Swim Center, the Apollos moved to 8-3 and remained - at least for now - a game behind Southridge for second place. But one goal, one goal that gave Southridge a 6-5 win over the Apollos on Oct. 19, may come back to haunt the Apollos come playoff time.

If the final game of the Metro League regular season goes according to form, that one loss will likely sentence the third-place Apollos to a first-round match-up at state with top-ranked perennial power Newberg.

'We just have to hope that Southridge, who's in second, loses to Aloha so we don't have to play Newberg,' said Sunset's Stephan Syzonenko, who scored his team's winning goal early in the fourth quarter Tuesday.

Regardless of Newberg's presence just over the horizon, the Apollos knew they needed to play with more consistency than they showed in their win over Beaverton (4-7 in Metro play), a game that featured a 5-1 Sunset lead and ended in a two-goal victory.

'We kind of got a little lazy in the second half,' Syzonenko said. 'We thought we were up so we didn't really think we didn't need to go further, keep working hard.'

'It was just like against Southridge when we had them down 6-2 going into the fourth quarter,' added Sunset coach Chris Akerman. 'That's exactly the thing we need to do better.'

For Beaverton, meanwhile, which has been eliminated from postseason consideration, its effort in outscoring the Apollos 4-1 in the second half showed just how close they'd been to the Metro's best teams this year.

'Our underclassmen … stepped up,' said Beaverton senior keeper Robert Schoen. 'They started scoring and that kind of started that fire and it's contagious.'

'The guys have had a little of the same theme going throughout the year which is that they start too late in the game,' said Beaverton coach Matt Bayha. 'They made it a game, but you can't give a team four goals when we haven't been an offensive team.'

Sunset grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first quarter on goals by Jordan Zehner and James Lauder, then boosted their edge to 3-0 on a score by Andrew Lee before Beaverton finally got on the scoreboard on an Ethan Balgley score 6 minutes and 35 seconds into the game.

Undeterred, the Apollos added two more goals before the end of the half, a second score by Lee and a second by Lauder on an assist by Danny Recordon to make it 5-1 at the break.

But that was essentially the end of the offensive highlights for the Apollos, save for the game-winner notched by Syzonenko early in the fourth quarter. The third quarter, however, belonged to the Beavers.

Beaverton shut down the Apollos in the third quarter, ripped off three goals of its own, and closed within 5-4 late in the period. Yonah Hendin came through with two scores in that third period, the first on a 10-yard shot assisted by Steve Curtis, and the second of those assisted by Daniel Feldman with just 52 seconds left in the period. And when Feldman scored on a breakaway assisted by Hendin with 17 seconds left in the quarter, Sunset's lead was just 5-4.

Syzonenko ended a scoring drought of 10:16 when he connected from five yards on a Recordon assist 53 seconds into the third quarter, and though Beaverton closed within 6-5 on Feldman's score with 3:11 left, Lee capped the win for Sunset with his team's insurance goal with 1:32 remaining.

'It's been a tough season - almost all our losses have been by one' goal, Schoen said. 'It's just like in the preseason, coach Akerman was saying the best teams are just separated by a few goals and it's true. That's the Metro League.'

'Once they gained their composure, they played the game I expected them to from the first whistle,' Bayha added.