Water polo -- The Tualatin girls play strong in their 15-9 victory over Tigard
by: DAN BROOD, IN THE POOL — Tualatin’s Iainee Perala looks to keep the ball away from Tigard’s Melissa Myers.

TUALATIN - Having fun and winning games.

They just might go hand-in-hand for the Tualatin High School girls water polo team.

And the Timberwolves seem to be enjoying plenty of fun, and plenty of victories.

Tualatin, fresh off a championship run at the Parkrose Tournament on Saturday, battled its way to a 15-9 victory over rival Tigard in a Pacific Conference game held Monday at the Tualatin Swim Center.

'We're on a roll. It feels pretty good,' said Tualatin junior Emily Dolbeer, who was the game-high scorer in Monday's contest with seven goals. 'It's just fun to keep winning.'

With the victory over Tigard, the Tualatin girls moved to 5-1 in Pacific Conference play, putting them alone in second place in the league standings.

'The girls are doing well,' Tualatin coach Russ Alvarez said. 'We're not as deep as we'd like to be, but they're working well together. We're working on defense - defense wins games.'

Tigard, which went into Monday's game tied with the Wolves, moved to 4-2 in league play with the loss.

'The teams are pretty evenly matched. That makes it fun,' Tigard coach John Ruzicka said. 'We had some shots that weren't great today.'

Neither team got off to a fast start - thanks to strong defensive play - in the early going of Monday's match. The Wolves, however, were able to grab a 1-0 lead when senior Hayley Scott scored from close range off a pass from senior Natalie Taylor, coming with 3 minutes and 15 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Dolbeer, with back-to-back goals, quickly pushed that Tualatin lead to 3-0. First, she scored on a breakaway following a steal and pass ahead from junior Maggie Alexander. Then, with 2:21 left in the first quarter, Dolbeer made the score 3-0 when she converted a penalty shot.

Tigard got on the scoreboard with a goal by junior Wendy Kral, making the score 3-1 with 1:56 remaining in the opening period. Dolbeer and Kral traded goals before the period ended, giving the Wolves a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Wolves, behind more scoring from Dolbeer and some strong passing, kept rolling in the second quarter. Scott scored on a lob shot off a pass from Alexander and Dolbeer added two more goals, including one coming off yet another Alexander assist, to make the score 7-3 with 1:34 remaining in the first half.

But the persistent Tigers came back again. Tiger freshman Nicole Pond scored on a long-range attempt and senior Ellie Bradley had a rebound goal to cut the margin to 7-5 with 45 seconds left in the second quarter.

Dolbeer, with her sixth goal of the first half, coming with just 19 second to play in the period, give Tualatin an 8-5 lead at the break.

Tigard, again, cut the margin to two early in the third quarter when Bradley scored on a breakaway off an assist from Kral.

But that's when Tualatin took off. The Wolves, getting two goals from senior Sarah Hunter and one each from Taylor and Alexander, ended the period on a 4-0 run that gave Tualatin a 12-6 lead going into the final stanza.

'Sometimes we have to get upset to get going again,' Dolbeer said. 'That's what happened.'

Bradley scored an apparent goal for Tigard at the end of the third quarter, but it was later ruled that it occurred after the buzzer sounded. The Tigers also had a goal, again by Bradley, taken away early in the fourth quarter due to the fact that a player with three ejections (resulting in a disqualification) was still playing.

'That didn't help,' Ruzicka said of the two disallowed goals.

The Wolves, behind goals by Dolbeer and Hunter, off an assist from sophomore Jessica Medvec, upped its lead to 14-6 with 3:24 remaining to play.

Tigard cut the lead to 14-7 on a long, high goal by Melissa Myers with 3:14 to play, but Dolbeer answered with a long-range goal of her own.

Junior Janae Winden and Bradley each scored for Tigard in the last minute of the game to make the final score 15-9.

'This is pretty big,' Dolbeer said. 'Our biggest games are Newberg and Tigard - especially Tigard.'

Tualatin got three goals each from Hunter and Scott and one goal each from Taylor and Alexander.

Bradley paced the Tigers with four goals. Kral scored twice for the Tigers and Pond, Myers and Winden each scored once.

The two teams will play again Oct. 25 at Tigard.

'It will be tough at Tigard,' Alvarez said. 'They're strong. We have some things to work on.'

Tualatin, at the eight-team Parkrose Tournament on Saturday, beat Lincoln 11-0, Barlow 12-2 and Parkrose 10-4 to reach the championship finals. In the finals, the Wolves posted an 11-4 win over Centennial.

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