During the regular season, the HRV girls water polo had a blowout victory in nearly every contest — defeating teams by such large margins that Head Coach Kellie Dunn feared the Eagles’ game could atrophy by the time they faced some stiffer competition in the state playoffs.
The girls likely put Dunn’s mind more at ease during a first-round game Thursday afternoon at the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis, where the No. 1 Eagles cruised to a 21-2 victory over No. 8 South Albany, advancing to the double-elimination round of the state tournament next week.
“Every girl on the team scored a goal today, which is pretty cool,” Dunn said a few hours after the girls achieved one of their most lopsided victories of the season. “I’ve never had that happen… I think the fact that every girl scored a goal speaks to the depth of the team.
“It’s hard to have too much disappointment over a game like that,” she added. “They looked good.”
As they usually do, the Eagles came out with their signature fast and aggressive offense, pummeling the Rebels with nine goals to none in the first quarter. Dunn then had the offense slow down, and HRV headed into the half with a 10-zip lead.
Dunn then swapped out goalie Amber Kennedy, who had six saves, and put in Sloan Hall for the remainder of the game. South Albany scored two goals at the start of Hall’s shift, but she was perfect from there on out, stopping five shots, while HRV’s offense went on to score 11 goals in the final half.
Dunn noted that South Albany was low on substitutions as it was only their second year as a team and their first-ever state tournament appearance.
“I give South Albany credit; they played their hearts out all game and that was cool to see,” she said.
An added bonus to having such an uneven win was muddling opposing teams’ attempts at scouting. Summit was skulking around the pool, recording the game for scouting purposes in the event that the two team’s meet in the tournament. But, with such a large lead, Dunn had the luxury of experimenting with player combinations that the Storm likely won’t see in the tournament… or will they?!
“It’s a game within a game,” Dunn said with a laugh.
Scoring for HRV were Rose Finstad (3), Lauren Orr (2), Allie Burke (2), Faith Ocheskey (2), Ella Mudry (2), Jamie Robinson (2), Kennedy (1), Hall (1), Courtney Castaneda (1), Oona Johnsen (1), Alea McCarty (1), Sarah Gottschalk (1), Reegan Tweten (1), and Sarah Hall (1).
The team will now face conference rival No. 5 Sandy in a semifinal game Friday at 12:10 p.m. with the winner advancing to the championship game. HRV easily defeated Sandy 19-1 in their first meeting and then encountered an improved Pioneers squad in their second game, which resulted in a 14-4 win for HRV.