The Lakers win their second straight crown by beating the Tigers 8-7.
Great challenges and the ability to overcome them are the mark of great teams.
And the 2022 Lake Oswego boys water polo team is a great team.
The Lakers proved it in the biggest game of the 2022 season when they fought off a spirited effort by Three Rivers League foe Newberg to beat the Tigers 8-7 and win the Oregon High School Water Polo state championship at Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis on Saturday, Nov. 12.
“We needed to finish on a strong note,” said Lake Oswego senior Carlo Cremona, who led all scorers with three goals and won first-team all-tournament honors. “I would have left pretty disappointed if we didn’t leave on this.”
“I was highly nervous during the game and I was highly nervous up until the last second of that game,” said LO senior Hudson Schneider, also a first-team all-tourney pick who scored once in the win and survived two first-half ejections to stay in the game. “It was stressful. Part of (that) is they played very well and we played not our best game of all time. … Maybe that was nerves, maybe that was I don’t know what, but it was not the best shooting day (for) us. It was very exciting.”
“We came in ready to play, but they’re a good team — they came more ready,” said Laker senior and first-team all-tourney selection Jackson Barney, who scored twice in the second half of the championship. “We were sweating near the end, I’m not going to lie. But our team, we know how to persevere. We’re really good at that.”
“It was a great game against the best competition,” said LO sophomore goalie and first-team all-tourney pick Aidan Shannon, who helped limit Newberg to just two second-half goals. “We’ve got to give Newberg credit; Newberg’s a really really amazing team.”
With the win, the top-seeded Lakers capped their second straight state championship season with a Three Rivers League championship, a 10-game winning streak and a 32-1 overall record. Over the past two seasons, Lake Oswego — led by head coach Bryan Hill and assistant Scott Raegan — has amassed an incredible 66-1 overall record with its two state crowns.
Fourth-ranked Newberg, meanwhile, saw its two-game winning streak snapped and finished its year at 23-13 after placing third in the Three Rivers League.
The Lakers’ second straight title did not come easily, however. The Tigers matched the Lakers shot-for-shot and goal-for-goal almost all the way, and took advantage of LO’s physical defense to get ejections. Eventually, sophomore Kane Saur was removed from the game with three ejections, while both Schneider and Cremona played long stretches of the final with two ejections.
“We were playing defense a lot heavier than we usually do and they expected that so they were capitalizing,” Cremona said. “When they drove, they expected us to be on their back and they’d show that we were on their back and they got us ejected. They did that with Hudson, they did that with me and they did that with Kane. They got quite a few ejections.”
The teams traded goals throughout the first half, with the Lakers getting scores from Saur and Schneider in the first quarter, while the Tigers answered with goals by Mateo McKay and Brian Emmons.
After closing the first quarter with Emmons’ goal, Newberg made it three straight scores to take their biggest lead of the game at 4-2 two minutes into the second period. Hadley Holveck took a McKay pass to score the first of those 1:26 into the quarter, while Grant Waldal scored from short range off a Ryan Dickerson pass 33 seconds later.
The Lakers responded like champions, however, finishing the half on a 3-1 scoring run over a span of 2:27, beginning with Saur’s tip-in of a pass from junior Ford Bovich. Cremona forced his way between two Tiger defenders and connected from the right side to tie the game at 4-4, and after Newberg’s McKay hit, the Lakers came back again with a Cremona steal and breakaway to tie the game 5-5 at halftime.
Both defenses stepped to the fore in the third quarter, with Lake Oswego taking a 6-5 lead on Cremona’s shot from inside the 5-meter line 20 seconds into the period, and Newberg responding when Waldal connected for a 6-6 tie.
But then, finally, Lake Oswego edged away toward victory in the fourth quarter. Shannon and the Laker defense set the table for victory by keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard for the first 4:59 of the period and that allowed the LO offense time to come through.
First, Cremona took a pass from freshman Sullevan Kirtz and hit from short range two minutes into the frame, and two minutes later, Barney hit an angled shot from the left side set up by Cremona for an 8-6 lead.
The last 3:07 of the game was a stomach-churning struggle, with both goalies — Shannon and Newberg’s Kaden Stewart — stopping high-value chances at each end until Tiger Asher Stone added the final score with 2:01 left to play.
“It was very relieving,” Schneider said about time running out. “I was going all out, so as soon as it ended, I just sunk.”
“It was like having a huge elephant on your shoulders and it just flies away,” Cremona said.
“We got our matchup against them and did our best,” Shannon added. “It’s just one of those things — they know us, we know them. It was just a relief. It’s the best thing.”
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