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Howard a leader for LO in and out of the pool

by: , Marina Howard

Marina Howard has accomplished a lot in her outstanding water polo career at Lake Oswego High School.

Her honors include being a first-team selection in the Three Rivers League and team most valuable player.

But for Howard, nothing beats going to state in Corvallis this weekend. It has special meaning because she is the team's only senior.

'It was a lot of responsibility being the only senior,' Howard said. 'But we have a really good group of girls who really pulled together.'

The LO girls did it despite a long midseason losing streak that threatened to capsize their hopes for state.

'We had a few players only meetings,' Howard said. 'We got the issues on the table and we responded as a team. The friendships we built pushed us forward. You could tell in the games.'

Especially in the Sandy game, a 9-8 barnburner that advanced LO to the state tourney. Previously, the Lakers had buckled late in close matches.

'Before we had never been able to pull out close games,' Howard said.

The win was a high point for Howard's sterling career, in which she was a three-year starter, team MVP and defensive player of the year while playing two-meter guard. She was first team all-league this season.

Coach Rick Payne said, 'There aren't any official statistics on this, but Marina most likely was number one in the league in steals.'

Howard really loves water polo, and she plans to play it wherever she attends college. She has lots of options, because she is an outstanding student with a 3.9 GPA and sky-high scores on qualifying tests.

Number one on Howard's list is Stanford.

'She's exactly what they're looking for,' praised Payne.