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New-look West Metro girls ready to go

Beaverton, Southridge and Sunset are the only Beaverton schools to field teams


It’s a brand new world in high school girls water polo this year.

In the Beaverton School District, funding for high school water polo was cut last spring, but play will go on this fall after re-emerging with a new name, new sponsorship, new status and a new lineup of teams.

This season, the former Metro League will be re-launched as the West Metro League, operating as a community sponsored sport under the auspices of Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department and Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club.

by: MILES VANCE - READY TO GO - Southridge junior Ally Hanson-Holtry and the Skyhawks will challenge for supremacy in the newly-constituted West Metro League in 2012.

As to the new lineup, this year’s WML will include just four teams — Beaverton, Southridge, Sunset and Lincoln — after Aloha and Westview failed to attract enough players to form squads.

“The league is different this season,” said Sunset coach Doug Keller. “The loss of funding and support for water polo has made recruiting and organizing the league challenging.”

That said, league play kicks off on Tuesday, and regardless of what happens in WML play, all four teams will advance to the state playoffs at the end of the year.

“I think Lincoln will be solid,” said Beaverton coach Matt Bayha. “But with the limited number of girls teams in the league, I think a lot of the games will be close.”

“As for the girls, well, I just don’t know,” Keller added. “Beaverton is always strong, along with Southridge, and I am expecting a strong showing from (my team) at state as well.”

Following are previews of the West Metro League’s three Beaverton-area varsity girls water polo teams.

Editor’s note: Aloha and Westview will not field varsity girls teams this season due to low turnout.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — Beaverton was one of the league’s — and state’s — best teams a year ago and may be that again in 2012.

But to get there, the Beavers know they have a lot of hard work ahead of them.

The team graduated five seniors from 2011 and also had a handful of players who chose not to return for 2012. That leaves Beaverton with three returning varsity players — senior captain Madeline Motto (“We’ll be led by her and her experience with the game,” Beaverton coach Matt Bayha said of Motto. “She should be one of the best, if not the best, players in the league”), junior Maggie Newton, and sophomore Hailey Hecht, and another with some varsity experience in sophomore Kaitlyn Wright.

“We’ve got seven brand-new players who’ve only played one month now, so we’re really counting on the (experienced players) to pass their knowledge on,” said Bayha, whose team took second in league and then advanced all the way to the eight-team state tournament on 2011. “I’ve already seen more growth than I’ve seen with many teams in the past.”

That trio will be joined by senior McKenzie Mengis, senior Kristy Rutz, senior Maya Atkins, freshman Cienna Wall, freshman Emma Egan, freshman Marie Thomeson and freshman Kristin Kepner.

“They’re constantly becoming better swimmers and learning the rules,” Bayha said. “It’s just a matter of unity-building among the six girls in the pool.”

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — The 2011 season wasn’t everything that the Southridge girls water polo team had hoped it would be.

The Skyhawks went just 2-8 in league play and finished fifth in the six-team Metro League.

Now, with a new start in the slimmed-down West Metro League, Southridge is hoping for better.

“We’ve got a lot of young players this year so that’s exciting,” said Southridge coach Eric Akerman. “We’ve been practicing a lot about being more aggressive and they’re starting to pick that up.”

This year’s Southridge team will be led by junior Ally Hanson-Holtry (she was a third-team all-leaguer in 2011), and fellow returners Natalie Werst (a junior), Andrea Eckert (a junior) and Teresa Powers (a sophomore). Senior Ella Card — the team’s lone senior — will also play a key role this year.

“Ella is really good at getting the girls together,” Akerman said. And “Teresa and Ally get everyone excited. They’ve been around more and have more experience.”

Joining that trio on this year’s roster are junior Johanna Baudorff (a German exchange student), junior Sidney Schickedanz, freshman Isabelle Sichel and freshman Kelly Orozco.

Together, that group hopes to help their team climb the West Metro League standings and perform well in the Oregon High School State Water Polo Playoffs.

“They’re very coachable, so thats’s definitely the goal,” Akerman added.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — The 2011 season was a mixed bag for the Sunset girls water polo team.

The Apollos finished in the middle of the league — in fourth place at 4-6 — and certainly would have liked to have done better. But Sunset did win a berth to the state playoffs and very nearly upset David Douglas there.

The Apollos are looking for more — much more, they hope — in the new West Metro League in 2012.

“All the teams are down in numbers ... so we don’t have the depth on the bench that we are normally accustomed to,” said Sunset coach Doug Keller. But “Sunset’s girls are on the rise. Although (we’re) still a young team, I would not be surprised if the girls did very well in league play.”

This year’s team will be led by a trio of seniors, captain Cassandra Dietrich (she was a third-team all-leaguer last season), Sydney Keller and Soraya Go. That group will be joined by talented newcomers Kaye Shapiro (a freshman), Brooke Weir (a sophomore) and goalkeeper Abby Griffiths (a junior)

Griffiths “will certainly be a stabilizing force for the team,” Keller said. “Her ‘cool under fire’ attitude is infectious and has already contributed to overtime win versus Sandy in preseason action.”

Also ready to contribute will be sophomores Amanda Crawford, Madeline Adams, Elizabeth Ren, Elise Cutts, Piper Morgan and Bailey Sumner.