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Twice is Nice

The Tualatin girls water polo team beats Newberg 12-11 in OT to win its second straight state title
by: DAN BROOD MVP — State tournament MVP Bryn Hudson is all smiles following Tualatin’s win over Newberg in the state title contest.

CORVALLIS - Sarah Visse's tears of sorrow turned into tears of joy.

Meanwhile, Bryn Hudson just couldn't stop smiling.

And it was a championship smile.

In fact, there were plenty of joyful tears and bright smiles to be found on the faces of the Timberwolves.

That's because the Tualatin High School girls water polo team, in thrilling fashion, captured its second straight state title by scoring a 12-11 overtime win over Newberg in the Oregon High School Water Polo State Tournament championship game, played Saturday at the Osborn Aquatic Center.

'I'm just freaking out,' Hudson, a Tualatin High School senior, said during the Wolves' victory celebration. 'This is a perfect end to my senior year. It's a great ending.'

'I was crying earlier, because I thought I gave it way,' said Visse, a Tualatin junior. 'At the end, I looked back at (Tualatin goalie) Kate (McDonnell) and we both were so happy, we just started crying.'

'It's amazing to win again,' Tualatin senior Katie Newgard said. 'The first time was nice, but winning twice is better.'

With the win, Tualatin finished the season with a final overall record of 22-0, marking the Wolves' second-straight unbeaten season.

'To go undefeated again is amazing,' Visse said.

Newberg, the No. 2 team from the Pacific Conference, finished with a final overall record of 20-6 - with five of the Tigers' losses coming in games with Tualatin.

'It's hard to beat a team five times,' Tualatin coach Ryan Deahn said. 'Our girls played a fantastic game tonight, and so did Newberg. The girls didn't get rattled, and that's why they're the champions.'

But there certainly seemed to be plenty of reason for the Wolves to get rattled, as they trailed Newberg for most of the championship contest before prevailing in overtime.

'We just came together,' said Hudson, who was named the state tournament MVP for the second straight year. 'Everyone was scoring, everyone was playing well. We did it as a team.'

'We just needed to win,' Visse said.

Tualatin took a 1-0 lead in Saturday's champion match when Visse scored off a pass from Newgard coming with 5 minutes and 55 seconds left in the first quarter.

The lead went back and forth throughout the rest of the opening period. The Wolves, getting goals from junior Mattea Mundstock and senior Taryn O'Neill, went on to hold a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But Newberg came storming back in the second quarter. The Tigers scored the first three goals of the period to take a 5-3 lead. Newgard scored off a pass from Visse to trim the lead to 5-4 with 2:35 left in the period. But Newberg, with freshman Grace Brookie scoring on a long-range shot with 22 seconds left in the quarter, upped its lead to 6-4 at halftime.

The Timberwolves seemed to be fired-up to start the second half. Hudson scored on a penalty shot and then she added another goal soon after to tie the game at 6-6 less than a minute into the third quarter.

Tualatin then took a 7-6 lead after Mundstock scored on a breakaway following a steal and pass by Hudson coming with 5:46 left in the period.

But the Wolves wouldn't be able to score again in the quarter.

Meanwhile, Newberg, getting goals from junior Alysha Bush and junior Cassie Beecher, came back to take an 8-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers then got a power-play goal by Beecher to start the final stanza, upping their lead to 9-7 with 6:32 left in regulation play.

Tualatin cut the lead to 9-8 when Hudson scored on a lob shot with 5:15 left to play. The Wolves kept the pressure on from there, getting shots from Hudson and junior Abbie Howard. They were finally able to tie the game, at 9-9, when Hudson scored off a long pass from Newgard with 2:54 remaining.

McDonnell then stepped up for the Wolves. First, with 2:22 remaining, she stole a pass intended for Beecher right in front of the Tualatin goal. Then, with 41 seconds left, she blocked a shot by Beecher, deflecting the ball off the right post of the Timberwolf goal, then grabbing the ball before it went over the goal line, preserving the 9-9 tie.

Tualatin had a chance to take the lead, but, with 23 seconds left, Newberg came up with a steal. It was that steal that had Visse distraught at the time.

'I was really upset,' she said. 'I thought I gave it away.'

But, Bush's shot with 6 seconds left hit the crossbar of the Tualatin goal, sending the game to overtime.

'I was so nervous going into overtime,' Newgard said. 'But we were all so pumped up.'

Tualatin took a 10-9 lead 20 seconds into the first of two 3-minute overtime sessions when Visse scored of an assist from Newgard.

A goal by Hudson coming with 28 seconds left in the first overtime gave the Wolves an 11-9 lead going into the second overtime session.

Newberg trimmed the lead to 11-10 when Bush scored with 1:58 left in overtime.

Tualatin pushed the margin back to two, at 12-10, when Newgard scored on a shot with 55 seconds left. The Tigers quickly answered back, getting a goal by Bush with 49 seconds remaining, making the score 12-11.

Newberg had one last chance to tie the game, but, with just 1 second left, Beecher's long-rang shot skimmed off the outside of the right post of the Tualatin goal, giving the Wolves the 12-11 win and their second straight state championship.

'Oh my gosh, this is so amazing,' Tualatin sophomore Kammi O'Neill said. 'It's the best feeling.'

Newgard and Visse, who both were battling illness earlier in the week, both came up big for Tualatin in overtime.

'I think adrenaline got us through,' Visse said.

'I had the winning goal,' Newgard said with a big smile on her face.

Visse, meanwhile, had three steals in the extra session to go with her goal that started overtime.

'Sarah put it away for us,' Hudson said. 'She made my senior season.'

'I think I aged 10 or 15 years tonight,' Deahn said. 'This has been fantastic. I can't say enough about this group of girls. Every single one of them worked so hard.'

'This was a game to remember,' Hudson said.

Hudson, who, last week signed a national letter of intent to play college water polo at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was the top scorer in the championship game with five goals - all coming in the second half or in overtime.

Visse, Newgard and Mundstock each added a pair of goals.

Bush and Beecher each had three goals for Newberg.

Prior to the championship-game win over Newberg, Tualatin posted an 18-7 win over South Eugene in a state tourney semifinal game played on Friday.

Hudson scored 14 goals in that game. Newgard had two goals and Visse and Mundstock added one apiece.

Mundstock and Newgard joined Hudson on the all-tournament first team. Visse and McDonnell were all-tournament second-team selections.

Other members of the state champion Tualatin girls water polo team include sophomore Emily Watt, senior Ariel Walsh, sophomore Hannah Price, sophomore Rebecca Walsh, freshman Marisa Lovos and freshman Madison Berggren.

Shane Lofgren is the team's assistant coach.