Pacer water polo plays in state tourney

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Lakeridge water polo coach Frank Obiesie talks strategy with his team. The Pacers play in the state tournament in Corvallis this Friday.

The Lakeridge boys water polo made history last week, qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in school history with a win over Redmond.

The Pacers, who finished second in their league behind powerhouse Newberg this year, won their play-in game handily, keeping the Panthers off the board until the fourth quarter when the bench was in the game.

Making the state tournament was a goal for the Pacers from the beginning of the season.

Lakeridge has been steady and consistent all year with a strong starting core playing in front of a freshman goalie in Zach Wyman.

"All season long the goal has been to play great defense. It's been a strength of ours and all six guys are very good," coach Frank Obiesie said.

Matt White has been a standout defensively with a penchant for creating turnovers.

The Pacers have also prided themselves on being one of the best conditioned teams in the state as the team's starting six are all very capable of playing for the entirety of a match.

Lakeridge has received huge contributions from Matt Berman and John Moon this year as well, both of whom played in the Junior Olympics last summer.

Moon has put together a spectacular run in his senior campaign and has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the state.

"He's had just an unbelievable season. He's had games where he's scored seven or eight goals with the other team keying on him. And that's good for us because our other guys can all contribute," Obiesie said.

Lakeridge battled through a competitive league schedule this year and finished in a three-way tie for second place.

The Pacers then played in a tiebreaker for seeding against Hillsboro, a team that had beaten them twice in the regular season by just one goal.

But, in the tiebreaker, Lakeridge was dominant, winning 12-4 to claim second place.

The Pacers were able to continue their strong run with an easy victory over Redmond which set up a quarterfinal match-up with Southridge, the top ranked team in the state.

Southridge was too tough, knocking off the Pacers 17-4.

But Lakeridge can still rally for fifth place. On Friday the team will face a familiar opponent in Hillsboro. If the Pacers can win that game, they will likely square off against Lincoln on Saturday for fifth place in state.

"Last year's team was very good but this year I think the guys play better as a team. A lot of them have played together for four years and it's a really good group," Obiesie said.