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Tigers stunned in state title game


Two-time defending champions Southridge upsets the Tigers 11-10 in thrilling championship match

CORVALLIS — The Newberg boys water polo team had been fixated on reclaiming the 6A state title ever since Southridge snapped its run of five consecutive championships in 2011.

The Tigers, who were underdogs a year ago when the Skyhawks repeated, entered Saturday’s championship game feeling like it was their year, having not lost to any team from Oregon this season. by: GARY ALLEN - NHS goalee Kyle Hansen was named to the tournament's first team after turning back numerous scoring attempts in the Tiger's 11-10 loss to Southridge in the state championship game Saturday evening at the Osborne Aquatic Center in Corvallis.

At the same time, considering they tied 11-11 and won 9-7 in two meetings with Southridge this year, Newberg knew it would still take a strong effort to beat the Skyhawks. They expected a dog fight.

That’s exactly what happened, as Southridge took an early lead, weathered a second-half Newberg comeback and scored the final goal of the game with 1:19 to play to eke out an 11-10 win and secure its third consecutive state championship.

by: GARY ALLEN - The NHS boys water polo team awaits the outcome of deliberations by state officials over a protest filed by Coach Jim McMaster on a call early in the second half.“Our guys played hard, they just had a terrible first quarter,” head coach Jim McMaster said. “They played hard and I can’t take anything away from them.”

The Tigers found themselves behind the 8-ball early as Southridge seized control from the start and took a 5-3 lead after one quarter. Newberg settled in by the second, but still trailed 7-4 at halftime.

“They came out really fired up and we came in maybe a little too confident,” junior Craig Beecher said. “They came out good and strong, got the first one and that maybe shocked us a little bit.”

The game involved some controversy, as the Tigers struck first in the third on a goal from Spencer McMaster 1:35 into the period. After earning an ejection to a Southridge player, Beecher scored just over a minute later to pull his team within one. by: GARY ALLEN - Senior Corbin Day rises for a shot vs. Southridge in the state title game Saturday in Corvallis.

The referees signaled the goal was good, but appeals from the Southridge bench, as well as from an off-duty official with ties to the Skyhawks, called for the goal to be waved off. They argued that Beecher did not pass the ball into play following the ejection, whereas McMaster claimed goalie Kyle Hansen had done so, passing directly to Beecher before he raced up the pool for the score.

The referees deliberated for 15 minutes, ultimately deciding to wave off the goal.

The Tigers retained possession, but failed to score the second time around. The Skyhawks regained control of the match, scoring with 3:43 left in the quarter to go up 8-5.

“It’s just like the Super Bowl, where the power goes out and the other team gets the momentum and wins,” Beecher said. “It was that same scenario.”

by: GARY ALLEN - NHS Coach Jim McMaster awaits word from officials after protesting a call early in the second half.Following up a shot, Landry Saunders responded for Newberg, swimming the ball into the net 22 seconds later and the two teams alternated scoring to make it 9-7 Southridge entering the fourth.

The momentum swung in Newberg’s favor early in the fourth, starting with a goal by David Florez Juarez.

Skyhawk star David Stiling then drew a 5-meter penalty shot in response, but Newberg goalie Kyle Hansen stunned the tournament MVP by blocking his attempt aimed at the lower left-hand corner. Corbin Day promptly scored on the next possession to tie the game 9-9 with just over six minutes to play. by: GARY ALLEN - Reserve players sit in stunned silence late in the game as the Skyhawks scored in the last two minutes to clinch their third consecutive state title.

“We were definitely pumped up,” Beecher said. “That was a lot of energy because if they score that, they go up two goals. Getting that block and being able to go down and score on the other side gave us a lot of energy right there, a lot of momentum. (Hansen’s) definitely stepped up a lot this year.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers misfired on a handful of good scoring opportunities over the next few minutes, eventually trading goals to make it 10-10 with 1:57 to play.

Southridge quickly earned an ejection and converted on the 6-on-5 opportunity to take the lead with 1:19 remaining, then survived Newberg’s final two possessions to complete the upset.

“I think we were a little high strung in the fourth quarter trying to get that goal and were overexcited, really,” Hansen said. “We did what we could.”

McMaster filed a formal protest of the result and the Oregon High School Water Polo Association board deliberated for about 45 minutes about whether the game was over or to have the two teams enter overtime. The protest was eventually denied.

Spencer McMaster, Beecher and Hansen were named to the all-tournament first team, Corbin Day was selected for the second team and Landry Saunders was given honorable mention.

“I know most of the team is disappointed and I am, too, but knowing that we lost on a technicality like that — the ref made a call, it didn’t go our way — I’ll take it,” Hansen said. “We played hard and did our best.”