Proving once again that they are a team on the rise, the HRV girls water polo squad scored another victory Thursday evening and though it was only the second contest of the season, it was a historic one.
The Eagles (2-0) stunned Barlow (2-1) with a 10-7 victory Thursday night in the 6A team’s home pool. It was the first time ever that the HRV girls had beaten the perennially strong Bruins team.
“To beat them in their home pool really sets the tone for us this season,” said HRV Head Coach Kellie Dunn Thursday night. “Our team really demonstrated tonight that we have the strong defense, speed, and teamwork it takes to battle and win against top teams in the league… This was one of the next big steps for the team as 6A team Barlow has been in the top of the Mt. Hood Conference league for the past several years and is known for having a consistently good team.”
The girls are only playing in their third full season, but the win over Barlow shows the exponential growth the team has enjoyed since the Eagles’ winless inaugural season in 2014. Some of the current players on the HRV roster were there that season “so everybody knew beating Barlow was a big deal,” Dunn noted. She added that though Barlow lost some talented seniors to graduation last year, this was a team that had recently defeated 6A Reynolds, 13-4, and was no slouch.
The Bruins never led in the contest, with the Eagles employing the same fast and furious opening attack that saw them get a decisive win over David Douglas Aug. 30.
“The plan for the game was to come out hard, shut down Barlow’s counter attacks, and keep their key players from taking over the game with strong pressure defense,” Dunn explained. “Hood River battled hard all game and effectively controlled the entire game, never letting Barlow take the lead in the game. Defensively, the team worked well together to cover the back end and rallied on the offensive counterattacks. Barlow struggled to keep up with the speed, strength, and depth of the Hood River team.”
Freshman Faith Ocheskey led the team with three goals, with Rose Finstad, Courtney Castaneda, and Jamie Robinson adding two as well as a team-high four assists, and Allie Burke rounding out the scoring with a goal. Dunn noted that goalkeeper Kat McElderry “had a really strong presence in the cage with 10 saves, including a solid 5-meter penalty block.” She also highlighted the defensive work of Lauren Orr, who had a team-high eight steals.
HRV was scheduled to travel to Sandy (0-1) Tuesday (results not available at press time) and then host their first game of the season Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Hood River Valley Aquatic Center.
The boys team did not fare as well in their outing against Barlow, falling 20-9. Head Coach David Robinson said Barlow’s physicality and speed caught HRV off-guard, as well as the team’s effective counterattack the resulted in nine of the Bruins’ first 10 goals.
“In some ways this was a good wake-up call,” he noted. “Some of our players thought we would go in and walk out with a win based on some seniors Barlow lost last year.”
JJ Mears and Pelle Bergstrom led with three goals apiece, helped out by Chad Klaas and Cole Rothman, who had two and one goals, respectively. Klaas led with five steals, frosh Pen Paphanchi led with two assists, and frosh keeper Cael Price had three steals.