Lakeridge is dead even in the third quarter before Lake Oswego pulls away
This one had it all.
A crosstown rivalry.
A match-up of the state’s top two high school boys water polo teams.
A Three Rivers League battle and a game that lived up to the hype.
In the end, the Lake Oswego boys team (the reigning Class 6A state champions) fought off a determined challenge by Lakeridge (last year’s state runner-up) and pulled away to beat the Pacers 18-11 in the twice-yearly Battle of the Lake at Lake Oswego School District Pool on Monday, Sept. 26.
“It was a great game. It was a lot of fun,” said Lake Oswego senior Carlo Cremona, the reigning Three Rivers League and 6A state tournament Most Valuable Player, who led his team with six goals on Monday. “The close games are always the best. It’s really good for the younger guys because they need that competition that really grinds and builds you up.”
“It was awesome playing against them because I play with those guys all the time on competitive club,” said Lake Oswego sophomore Henry Saur, who scored all three of his goals in the second half. “It was just good actually getting some shots in.”
With the win, the Lakers improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 10-0 overall. The Pacers, meanwhile, saw their six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 8-2 overall.
“In my opinion, Lake Oswego is the best team I’ve played in Oregon,” said Lakeridge senior Markus Wojtalik, an exchange student from Germany who led all scorers with eight goals. “I think they’re the best team, but we can beat them.”
“We were just playing our game, driving through and getting the man-ups … but obviously, we need to convert on our man-ups,” said Pacer senior Colin Alexander, who scored once against the Lakers. “I don’t think we converted a single one and we had seven.”
The Lakers started Monday’s game at a dead sprint, scoring four unanswered goals in the first 5 minutes, 53 seconds of the contest, getting one each from junior Ford Bovich (on an angled shot from the left side), Cremona (on a breakaway), sophomore Kane Saur (on a penalty shot) and senior Hudson Schneider (from short range).
Wojtalik answered with a penalty shot with 20 seconds left in the opening period, then really heated up in the second quarter. The Lakers pushed ahead 6-1 on scores by freshman Sullevan Kirtz (assisted by senior Jackson Barney) and Cremona (off a long pass from sophomore goalie Aidan Shannon), but after that, the Pacers outscored LO 6-2 the rest of the half to close within 8-7.
Wojtalik collected four of Lakeridge’s goals, including two in a row to bring his team within 6-3, and later, two scores in the half’s final 24 seconds, the first on a lob shot over Shannon from the left side and the second on a low shot that skipped off the surface of the pool from near mid-pool with seven seconds to go.
Between Wojtalik’s efforts, Lake Oswego got a pair of Cremona scores (assisted by Shannon and Barney), while the Pacers added goals by Alexander (set up by freshman Justin Rim) and senior Brody Burk for their 8-7 deficit at the break.
Things got even closer in the third quarter, with LO pushing ahead 9-7 on an early Schneider goal assisted by Barney, while Wojtalik answered with back-to-back scores to knot the contest 9-9 with 3:56 left in the period.
The Lakers hardly blinked, however. Instead of panicking, they rallied with six straight goals over the final 3:43 of the third quarter and first 1:43 of the fourth to take a commanding 15-9 advantage.
Cremona got that stretch started with a score from point-blank range, Henry Saur hit from the left side off a pass from his brother, Barney took a Schneider pass and connected from the left side, Schneider scored from short range off a Cremona feed, and Henry Saur scored on a breakaway set up by Bovich for a 14-9 lead with 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
Kane Saur took a pass from junior Campbell Smith and connected for LO’s sixth straight score 1:43 into the fourth quarter to make it 15-9 and essentially put the game on ice.
Wojtalik and senior Tyler Dunn added scores for Lakeridge down the stretch, while the Lakers kept their advantage thanks to goals from Cremona, Henry Saur and junior Kole Caylor in the game’s final 2:48.
“We’re putting in the work in practice. We’re trying to recreate what we had last year,” Cremona said of the Lakers’ unbeaten 2022 state champions. “Obviously, we lost a lot of talent with David (Morgan) and Max (Spurr) and Miles (Campion) and Link (Buckner), our great goalie, but these guys are definitely stepping up and I’m really proud of how they’re shaping up.”
“(The key is) just converting those man-ups,” Alexander said. “If we get one more ejection on Hudson and Carlo — that’s their two best guys — that’s a mismatch for other guys. That could be the game.”
Next up, the Lakers play at Newberg (1-0 in TRL play, 7-0 overall)at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, while the Pacers host Tigard (0-0 in TRL play, 3-4 overall) at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
See the Photo of the Day from this game by clicking here.
See the complete slideshow from this game by clicking here.
To see even more images from the Lakeridge-Wells contest, or to buy prints or digital downloads from this game, go to milesvance.smugmug.com.