The Tualatin boys get a 17-9 win in water polo play

by: DAN BROOD - SPLASHDOWN - Tigard goalie Justin Metschen (left) tries to block a shot by Tualatin's Dylan Girardi in last week's game held at Tigard.TIGARD — The Tigard High School boys water polo team got off to a quick start.

The Tigers also had a furious start to the fourth quarter.

But the rest of the match belonged to the Timberwolves.

The Tualatin High School boys water polo team, withstanding a strong effort by the Tigers, came away with a 17-9 win over its rival in a Pacific Conference game played Sept. 26 at the Tigard Swim Center.

“It’s a different intensity when we play Tigard,” said Tualatin’s Harry Visse, who led the Wolves with eight goals in the victory. “It’s a rivalry and both teams try to give 110 percent.”

The Tigers sure seemed to be giving it everything they had in the opening minutes of the contest.

Tigard’s Elliott Branen scored on a pair of backhand shots to start the match, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead with 3 minutes and 59 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

“We started off bad,” Visse said. “But we called timeout and got things together.”

The Wolves, following the timeout, got a goal from Clay McKean, off an assist from Forrest Lofgren, and a goal by Visse to tie the game at 2-2 at the end of the opening period.

Branen scored on yet another backhand shot to open the second quarter, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

But Tualatin took over from there.

A goal by Visse tied the game at 3-3 with 5:16 left before halftime. The Wolves then took their first lead of the game, at 4-3, when Brendan O’Neill put in a deflected shot with 4:42 remaining in the period.

Visse then scored on a breakaway off a long outlet pass from goalie Jacob Baldry to up the lead to 5-3.

Kellen Reid added a goal for the Wolves and Lofgren scored back-to-back goals, the second being a buzzer-beater, giving Tualatin an 8-3 advantage at halftime.

Tualatin kept rolling in the third quarter. Lofgren had two goals in the period, including another buzzer-beater off a long pass from Baldry. Visse, Owen Mansfield and Dylan Giraldi each added a goal in the period, giving the Wolves a 13-3 lead going into the final stanza.

But that’s when the Tigers came to life again.

Logan Hammer scored on a lob shot to start the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 13-4. Branen then scored back-to-back goals, Brad Hansen had a goal off an assist from Jonathan Irving and Branen scored on a follow-up shot to close the gap to 13-8 with 2:55 left in the game.

But Visse and Wolves wouldn’t let Tigard get any closer.

Visse scored three straight goals to quickly up the margin to 16-8 with 1:52 remaining.

Branen and Visse each scored for their respective team in the last minute to make the final score 17-9.

“It was nice to put it away,” Visse said.

“It was good,” Tualatin coach Ryan Deahn said. “The guys are starting to play together and they’re not afraid to shoot.”

That looked to be true for Visse, with his game-high eight goals.

“I challenged him to shoot more,” Deahn said. “He’s got such a strong arm.”

Lofgren added four goals for the Wolves.

Branen led the Tigers with seven goals.

“Every game the team gets a little better,” Tigard coach John Ruzicka said. “They didn’t back down today. They kept fighting. Our biggest problem is just controlling the ball. We have too many turnovers.”

On Monday, the Tualatin girls will play at Lake Oswego at 8 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard will host Sandy at 5 p.m.

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