There are no clear favorites as teams get ready for league play
Brick by brick, nail by nail, and day by day, the Metro League is building toward bigger and better things.
The Metro League, long the home to some of the state's best girls water polo teams, has not sent a team to the eight-team state tournament in either of the past two years and would love to reverse that trend in 2011.
But of course, they first have to survive the always-challenging league campaign, and frankly, there's not a real consensus yet on who will win.
'I think Westview and Lincoln will have the two best teams' this year, said Westview coach Dan Guidoux.
'Beaverton and Westview have strong teams with good (groups) of returning players,' said Sunset coach Doug Keller. But 'I expect Sunset to play tough and I would not count our girls out.'
And Beaverton coach Matt Bayha had a different take yet on what might happen in 2011.
'The teams to beat will be Lincoln's girls, Sunset's girls and us,' he said.
We'll soon see. League play starts on Tuesday.
Following are previews of the Metro League's four Beaverton-area varsity girls water polo teams.
Editor's note: Aloha High School will not field a varsity girls team this season due to low turnout.
BEAVERTON - Beaverton took a quantum leap forward last year.
The Beavers, after missing the playoffs in 2009, battled to second place in the 2010 Metro League race. Now, Beaverton wants to put together another strong league campaign and extend its stay at state.
'The key (for us) will just be in fielding a full girls team that knows the game and can get up and down the pool quickly,' said Beaverton coach Matt Bayha. 'We have that this year and we're looking at (winning) the Metro title.'
This year's team will be led by its two captains, junior April Snodgrass (she was a first-team all-Metro selection a year ago) and senior Elaine Marshall (a second-team selection).
They 'will lead the team, April with her strong defensive skills and her shooting, and Elaine with her knowledge of the game and ability to take advantage of the other team's weaknesses,' Bayha said.
The team will also rely heavily on junior Brooke Nelson, junior Madeline Mott and senior Hannah Hollowell. The team also includes senior Megan McLinden, senior Laurel Skinner, sophomore Annalise Cameron, freshman Hailey Hecht, sophomore Taylor Nelson, junior Rachel Barzen, sophomore Maggie Newton, senior Abigail Baker and junior Larkin Miers.
BEAVERTON - Southridge's girls are starting fresh - well, almost anyway - for 2011.
This year's version of the Skyhawks features just two returning players from last season's 3-6-1 fifth-place finisher, but that doesn't mean the team won't be competitive. Indeed, Southridge believes that it has enough experience in those two returners, and enough new talent on hand to battle with the league's best teams.
'We're working a lot on fundamentals right now. That will be key for us,' said Southridge coach Erik Akerman. 'But we've got some promising underclassmen.'
The Skyhawks' two returners - sophomore Ally Hanson-Holtry and junior Mackenzie Klapp - will play key roles as the Southridge team prepares for league play in 2011. Akerman said that Blair Woods, a first-year senior, has already begun to prove herself, as have freshman Teresa Powers and sophomore Erika Prestwich.
'At first, we were just worried about having enough girls to have a team,' Akerman said. 'But they've been doing pretty good (and Woods) is already showing a lot of promise.'
The rest of this year's team includes sophomore Natalie Weist, freshman Beca O'Hara, sophomore Megan Lamberger, and sophomore Marleen Osenberg.
CEDAR MILL - The 2010 season was a long, long season for the Sunset girls water polo team.
While the Apollos would very much like to extend the 2011 season into the playoffs, they are hopeful the year itself will feel a lot shorter.
Sunset, after going just 1-20 overall in 2010, brings back six varsity players for 2011, a group led by seniors Julianna Collins and Liza Overholser.
'Juliana Collins and Liza Overholser will be our … major leaders on the team,' Keller said. 'Both are strong and great athletes.'
The Apollos' returners also include senior Jensen Pfleiger, junior Cassandra Dieterich, junior Sydney Keller and junior Soraya Go.
'We are doing much better this year than last, especially in the general health of the team and experience level,' said Sunset coach Doug Keller. We have 'only increased our overall skill level, conditioning and health.'
The Apollos also expect to get big contributions from juniors Sydney Keller and Zia Klocke, sophomore goalkeeper Abby Griffiths and freshman Amanda Crawford.
The rest of the lineup includes freshman Genna Hanny, freshman Elise Cutts, freshman Esme Johnson, sophomore Savannah Parent, freshman Megan Piper, freshman Bailey Sumner, sophomore Sophia Magee and freshman Brooke Weir.
ROCK CREEK - Westview's girls did a pretty good job of keeping their heads above water in 2010.
The Wildcats went 4-5-1 in Metro League play last year, finishing ahead of three other teams and behind four.
But Westview would like 2011 to be a bit more special than that, and with five senior returners on hand, the Cats don't see any reason why it won't be.
'I believe that we will have a pretty strong girls team this year,' said Westview coach Dan Guidoux. 'I think we will be fighting for the first-place position in Metro.'
This year's team features two returning all-leaguers in senior Annie Arcuri (she was a first-team all-Metro pick) and senior Emily England (a second-teamer), and both will play critical roles in 2011.
'The team leaders will be the team captains (Arcuri and England),' Guidoux said. 'They are both seniors who have been playing year-round now for years.'
Also back with experience are senior Katie Oliver, senior Julianne O'Connor, senior Katie Wills and sophomore Madi McGlone. The rest of the Westview lineup includes junior Kathleen Sundin, freshman Kiera McKenna Lindsey, freshman Ariana Davis, sophomore Virginia LaGrow, senior Mariah Dawson, freshman Bianca Ferreira, and sophomore Presley Roberds.