Girls reach second round of state water polo

Sweet Home’s water polo teams finished their season in the first rounds of the state playoffs last weekend as the girls won their first game and the boys dropped a 17-5 decision to Summit to exit the tournament.

Against Summit the boys played their best game of the year, trailing 4-1 after the first quarter, 9-5 at the half, 12-5 after three periods and then letting Summit pull away thanks to their superior numbers.

“We held them to five goals for three quarters of the game,” Coach Craig Martin noted.

“Then the fact that they had a much larger team allowed them to take advantage of the fact that we were getting tired.”

Sebas Mauer scored three goals for Sweet Home, with Cory Martin adding two. Martin, Erik Holmes, Brandon Corteau and Derek Jaques contributed assists.

The girls beat Bend by a huge margin for the second time this season, winning 24-9 in their first-round match, even though Martin held the Huskies back to keep things from getting too one-sided. Sweet Home scored five unanswered goals to start and led 9-2 after the first period and 12-4 at the half. In the third quarter the Huskies upped their lead to 18-6.

In the second round, Sweet Home lost to North Eugene 13-5.

Leading the scoring for the Huskies was Laura Gourley, with eight goals and four assists in the two games. Katie Kinney added seven goals and two assists, Sami Webb four goals and five assists, Katie Turner one goal and six assists, Rachel Maudlin one goal and two assists and Norajean Lemar two assists.

The girls ended their season with a 6-7 record.

Martin said both teams peaked at the district and state tournaments.

“The playoffs were a great opportunity for both squads to get playoff experience,” he said. “We got to play squads we hadn’t played and in a tournament format, which was good since we hadn’t played any tournaments.”

Martin noted that this year was an effort to re-establish the program and the goal was to make sure the players not only learned the game but had fun. He said the teams, particularly the girls, “really improved in the emotional, mental side of the game.”

He said the Huskies did well against the pressure of the playoffs, particularly since the majority of them had never played water polo before this season. Only three of the girls had previous experience in the sport and none of the boys had played high school water polo.

“Regardless of the score, they were very competitive against every team we played,” Martin said. “Sometimes the score would look like they just killed us. It’s tough knowing you’re going in not winning many games.

“Quite frankly, both teams have earned the respect of most, if not all, the other teams in terms of clean play and sportsmanship. We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.”