Water polo boys win 23-10

Just 14 seconds into the game, Lebanon scored an early goal to take the lead against the boys water polo team. But it was just the calm before a tidal wave of Sweet Home goals that gave the Huskies their first win, 23-10.

It was the only lead the Warriors would have. Fifty seconds later the Huskies had scored twice and never looked back. With deft hand-checking and accurate passing, they pounded the Lebanon goal with a torrent of well-placed shots to take an 8-1 lead after the first quarter. Lebanon only blocked two Husky shots, and one of those was at the buzzer. Meanwhile, at the shallow end, Andre Hoxfeldt had 5 saves.

On three occasions, the Huskies simply bull-dogged their defensive person down toward the goal and scored. But most of the time, they featured crisp passing and movement within their offense. Often the ball was centered to Jeff Stratman in the hole who would then find Larry Coulter on the wing or Sean Martin on a drive.

Defensively, Martin was always in the center of the action tipping the ball out of the hands of Lebanon players. John Corbin and James Davis were constantly hounding their men with pressure and Matt Maloney negated any efforts by his opponent.

But that was the first quarter when they were shooting in the deep end where they are supposed to have an advantage. Would it hold up? It did, and the dominance continued. With a great defense in the second quarter, the Huskies limited Lebanon to just four shots, two of which deep-end goalie Liz Andersen stopped. Meanwhile, the Huskies scored the first three goals, two by Stratman from the hole and another by Coulter on a skip shot after an assist from Martin.

The Huskies scored another goal at the two minute mark on a breakaway by Maloney, who drew the defense and then passed two an open Martin.

The period closed on a great play by Andersen in the goal. Two Warriors were able to strip the ball from Martin in front of the goal, but Andersen came up with the point blank save.

Andersen, after playing a full game for the girls, has to gear herself up for the faster paced, more aggressive boys’ game.

“I don’t want to let the guys’ team down because it’s not really my team,” said Andersen. “I’m just playing for them.”

Coach Rene Kirkland sees the benefits for Andersen when she plays goal in both games.

“It’s much easier for her in the girls game after being in a boy’s game,” she said.

However, she hopes to work Hoxfeldt into the goal at the deep end. With his limited experience, he still doesn’t have the endurance to manage the other end yet.

The Husky onslaught continued in the second half. So much so that later in the game Kirkland mixed things up to practice other options in their offense so the game would turn into a learning experience. Kirkland was most pleased with the overall improvement, especially of the players who had trouble contributing in the past.

“We were playing together, moving the ball around to each other,” stated Kirkland. “Everyone had a part.”

Stratman agreed, noting that on fast breaks they were seeing a lot more and involving more players.

“We finally started to realize we need to pull in other people and make them more a part of the team,” he said.

Stratman, in his first year as the hole player and just starting to feel comfortable with that

role, led all scorers with 9 goals followed closely by Martin with 7 and Coulter with 6. Corbin scored his first goal of the year. Corbin also took on a faster swimmer defensively and limited his effectiveness.

Besides a more team oriented effort, Martin said that their work in practice is starting to pay off. They worked hard on their egg beater technique to stay on top of the water which allowed them to steal the ball more often rather than just sinking and letting the opponent’s offense to swim by them.

“The game showed how much we have been working in practice on specific things in the defense,” said Martin. “Especially knowing where the ball is at all times.”

Girls Water Polo

In the girls game, the Huskies started off strong in the first quarter. Amber Larsen scored the first of her three goals with a left-handed shot from the hole just 34 seconds into the game to give Sweet Home their only lead. Lebanon kept wearing them down with constant pressure and quickness to the free balls to score on a number of undefended shots or breakaways and earned the 17-6 victory.

Early in the first quarter, the Huskies hit the post on a couple of shot opportunities, but it was Liz Andersen in the goal who kept Sweet Home in the game, only trailing 3-1 at the end of the first quarter. She had six saves in the first quarter, many at short range, and amassed 21 saves for the game.

Not only that she often swam out of the goal a third of the way up the pool to start the Husky offense with a good pass. The passes often got to the hole whether it was Larsen or Krystal Streight, but they didn’t have any movement in their offense after that.

It frustrates Kirkland because they work on it in practice.

“They wait for each other to do something,” she said. “We need someone to get brave.”

Conditioning played a big role in the game. Too many times Husky defenders trailed their opponents and forced Andersen into impossible save situations. But Kirkland also hopes they gain confidence in their skills to mentally overcome the thought that they are going to lose.

“They need to just get after it,” said Kirkland.

Besides Larsen’s three goals, Nicole Martin scored twice and Streight had one goal.