Newberg pulls away in the third quarter to top the Skyhawks 17-8; Tigers take on Sunset Thursday

SETH GORDON - Raleigh Day extends out of the water to defend an entry pass during Newberg's 17-8 win over Southridge last week. Day scored three goals in the victory.

It speaks to the level of success Newberg boys water polo has achieved when a comfortable win against a rival and fellow state title contender barely registers on the team's radar.

That was the case last week as the Tigers hammered Southridge 17-8 at home in their first contest this season against an opponent that could conceivably challenge them.

"We're having beginning of the season problems, just figuring out how to play together still," Zach Jordan said. "High school season is way different than club. We're still figuring out our team, but we're trying to put the puzzle pieces together."

Newberg quickly took a 4-1 lead in the first quarter, but Southridge's Aleska Jirokovic, a Russian exchange student, answered with a pair of quick goals and the Tigers settled for a 5-3 lead after one quarter.

NHS pushed the lead to 8-3 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and led by as many as seven before the SkyHawks scored twice in the final minute to make it 10-5 at halftime.

The game was getting a bit chippy early in the third quarter after the two teams traded goals in the first three minutes. The Tigers promptly put the game out of reach, however, with four consecutive goals from Raleigh Day, Jordan, Alex Touzeau and Dane Findley that made it 16-6 late in the third. Three of those goals came on the counterattack as the Tigers spent all of the first half working on their set offense.

"It could have been that way in the first quarter, but (coach Jim McMaster) really wants us to work on running our offense," senior goalie Wilson Johnson said. "I think that's part of our beginning of the season issues because in the past we've just been able to counter teams and pull away."

McMaster then pulled his starters for the entire fourth quarter and the reserves held their own for four minutes versus Southridge's starters as each team scored to make it 17-8 before the Skyhawk starters came out the pool with 2:16 to play.

Jordan, who finished with a game-high seven goals, said he believes the team's conditioning was a big reason for the victory.

"We wear weight belts three hours a day, several times a week," he said. "I feel like we're putting in way more work than any other team in the state. It's just like the girls last year. They won state because they were in better condition and won the fourth quarter. That's what we're shooting for."

Touzeau and Day added three goals apiece for Newberg, which went on to slam South Eugene 17-3 at home Saturday before trouncing Beaverton 16-2 Monday. Touzeau led the effort against the Axemen, scoring five goals, with Nathan Waldel adding four. Touzeau and Day then scored four goals apiece in the win over the Beavers.

"Alex is that low-key, good player that people sleep on a lot of the time," Jordan said.

The Tigers return to the pool Thursday for a 5 p.m. road game at Sunset and will then host Lincoln at 7 p.m. Monday.

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