Beaverton girls close in on second place by beating Sunset 8-2 Tuesday
by: MILES VANCE, SURROUNDED – Beaverton’s Hanna Eimstad splits through three Sunset players to get the ball during her team’s 8-2 Metro League victory over the Apollos at Sunset Swim Center on Tuesday.

CEDAR MILL - Great beginnings beget great endings and that was true for the Beaverton girls water polo team on Tuesday.

The Beavers moved a step closer to securing second place in the Metro League Tuesday when they used a 6-2 first-half edge to power their 8-2 victory over Sunset at Sunset Swim Center. The win lifted Beaverton's record to 8-2-1, and though Westview finished its regular season at 9-3 after beating Hillsboro on Tuesday, the Beavers still had second place in sight should they take care of 3-7 Lincoln today (Thursday).

'It's our second-to-last (regular season) game for the seniors so we're sad, but we're excited to get second this year,' said Beaverton senior Hannah Eimstad, who scored two goals against the Apollos.

'We've had a number of close games and we've been able to fight through them to get to that second spot,' said Beaverton coach Matt Bayha.

Sunset, meanwhile, dropped to 2-9 in Metro play and had previously been eliminated from postseason play, but could console itself with its solid second-half play when it held the Beavers to just two goals.

'We started taking shots,' Sunset's Lindsey Zehner explained her team's second-half surge. 'At the beginning of the game - it seems like that every game - it takes us awhile to get warmed up, but then we started taking shots and we started listening to each other and started talking.'

'They did good. They just need to believe in themselves and shoot,' added Apollos coach Chris Akerman. 'But you can't win if you don't shoot and the girls just don't shoot.'

While the Beavers would probably prefer to take some credit for the Apollos' offensive woes, they were happy enough to settle for the strong start that led to their victory.

Ally Moore go things started when she took an Eimstad pass and scored from the left side 2 minutes, 2 seconds into the game. Sunset's Julia Planz answered in the final minute of the opening stanza on a pass from Zehner, but Beaverton's Kathryn Sargent came through with 19 seconds left to push her team back in front at 2-1, a lead the Beavers would never relinquish.

In the second quarter, Amelia Frey got things going on a Lizz Haag assist 3:25 before halftime, and Eimstad followed with two goals in a span of just 34 seconds to push her team's edge to 5-1. Haag, who was later forced to leave the game after being struck in the face and suffering a persistent bloody nose, extended her team's lead to 6-1 with 20 seconds left in the half, before Zehner notched her team's second - and final - goal just before the halftime buzzer.

While the Apollos didn't score again, their defense helped slow the Beavers' potent attack in the second half. The two teams punched and counterpunched through a scoreless third quarter, and Beaverton closed out the game with a 2-0 edge in the fourth, getting goals from Frey and Moore for the final 8-2 margin.

'They kind of shocked us in the beginning (of the second half),' Eimstad of Sunset's defensive efforts in the second half. 'We hadn't quite expected it but we adjusted … and you've got to play to what they give you.'

'I really think that the girls adjusted well after the first half,' Bayha said. 'Once they figured that out the second half, they were able defensively to hold them.'

Zehner said that her team's defensive success came courtesy of effort and circumstance.

'We were starting to drop on their star player, and they had one of their stronger players out of the game and that helped us quite a bit,' she said.

Now, with just 3-7 Lincoln left before the end of the regular season, the Beavers are left to consider their playoff future and the gains they've made over the season.

'I think we've had more teamwork this year,' Eimstad said. 'We're all friends inside the pool, we hang out when it's not season, and when it is season, we love each other to death. I think it's all heart in this game. You play like you want it and it's anybody's game.'

Sunset closes its season at home against Hillsboro at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Beaverton hosts Lincoln at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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