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Skyhawks soar to second straight at state

Southridges boys rip Newberg 16-5 in the state championship


BEAVERTON — The 2012 season opened with a slew of questions surrounding the Southridge boys water polo team and the rest of the newly-formed West Metro League.

Would league play take place at all after the Beaverton School District dropped funding for high school water polo?

How would the new league and administration affect play in the pool?

And would those changes hurt Southridge’s chances at defending the state championship it won at the end of the 2011 season?

The Skyhawks answered all those questions and more this year, rolling to a co-championship in the WML with Lincoln, then putting together four straight wins in the state playoffs, that stretch capped by Saturday’s 16-5 rout of Newberg in the Oregon High School Water Polo State Championship at Tualatin Hills.

by: MILES VANCE - WINNING DEFENSE - Southridge's Matt Braun (No. 13), David Stiling and Arek Engstrom defend a shot by Newberg's Landry Saunders during the Skyhawks' 16-5 win over the Tigers in the Oregon High School Water Polo state championship at Tualatin Hills on Saturday.

“We were looking forward to playing Lincoln since we lost to them once, but it’s always nice to play Newberg because there’s always been a rivalry between us,” said Southridge junior Blake Hokkanen, who scored five goals in the championship and was also named to the all-tournament first team. “We just wanted to settle the argument about who was the best team in the state.”

“We wanted to come in and make a statement that we’re the best team in the state and there’s no one even close to us,” said junior David Stiling, who broke free for eight goals against the Tigers and was named tournament MVP.

Southridge made sure that perennial power Newberg — the Pacific Conference champ and holder of 12 state crowns — didn’t even have a chance to breathe in Saturday’s finale. The Skyhawks knocked the Tigers back on their heels with a 4-1 edge in the first quarter, boosted their advantage to 7-3 at the half, then blitzed Newberg with a 5-0 third-quarter effort that put their championship on ice.

“In the third quarter, David (Stiling) went on the counterattack and just manhandled them,” Hokkanen said. “After that, we just gave each other a look and we kind of knew we had it.”

“When we got up five or six goals, I knew we had it,” Stiling said. “But I told the guys ‘Don’t let up. Keep going and nobody let up.’”

In that opening quarter, the Skyhawks used a dynamite stretch of just 2 minutes and 20 seconds to score all four of their goals. Senior Cody Blandin kicked off that run when he rebounded a miss by teammate Mark Moshofsky and scored to make it 1-0 1:48 into the contest.

Next up, Hokkanen took a pass from Stiling on the counterattack and converted to make it 2-0 just 29 seconds later. Newberg’s Landry Saunders converted a penalty shot to cut the gap to 2-1, but Southridge hardly flinched, with Stiling coming back to score with defenders draped all over him to make it 3-1. And then, with 2:52 to go in the first quarter, Stiling took a pass from Blandin and scored from point-blank range to push the lead to 4-1.

The Tigers rallied early in the second period with scores from Corbin Day and Craig Beecher to move within 4-3, but thanks to Southridge’s determined efforts, that was pretty much the end of the Tigers’ highlights. After that, the Skyhawks closed the half with three goals in the final 1:08, the first of those by senior Jarred Rimby off a Hokkanen pass, the second from Matt Braun on the inside set up by Rimby, and the last on a counterattack by Stiling, who took a long pass from Hokkanen and scored from short range with three seconds left on the clock to make it 7-3 at the break.

But Newberg’s troubles were just starting. After a lengthy halftime delay while tournament officials tried to re-start the malfunctioning scoreboard, the Skyhawks just blew the Tigers away with a 5-0 quarter, the first two of those on Stiling goals assisted by Hokkanen, and the last three scores by Hokkanen (two on counterattacks) to extend the Southridge lead to 12-3.

The Skyhawks then closed out their championship with a 4-2 edge in the final quarter, Stiling pouring across three more goals and Hokkanen one while Newberg added scores from Beecher and Spencer McMaster, but it was far too little and way too late for the Tigers.

“It was a little bit of a relief” to win, Hokkanen admitted. “Last year, we were the underdogs, but this year, we were the (favorites) so it was kind of a relief when it was done.”

“It made it tougher all season because we had a big ‘X’ on our backs,” Stiling said. “But we knew if we played physical we could win.”

Besides their prolific scoring, the Skyhawks also flexed their muscles on defense, holding the Tigers to an extremely low shooting percentage and also getting 12 saves from senior goalie Arek Engstrom.

Southridge 19, Sunset 7

The Skyhawks faced a talented, but familiar, foe in their tournament semifinal on Friday night, using a huge edge in the game’s second and third quarters to beat Sunset 19-7 at Tualatin Hills.

Sunset, the third-place team from the West Metro, held their own early on, trailing just 2-0 after the first quarter and just 3-1 a minute into the second.

But the Skyhawks got hot there, closed the half on a 4-0 run that pushed their lead to 7-1, then added nine more unanswered goals in the third quarter to leave the Apollos in the dust. Hokkanen fueled that second-quarter surge with three scores, then added three more in the third while Stiling ran wild with four and Blandin added two.

The Apollos tried to hang close with two goals each from Braden Martinez, Ben Lewis and Grant Johnson, but just couldn’t match the Skyhawks’ offensive output.

For the game, Hokkanen finished with six goals, Stiling added five and Blandin four more.

The rest of the Skyhawk lineup included Camden Rimby, Kenny Koga, Arman Grigorian, Ajay Naik, Caleb Rygh, Mark Malofiy, Darius Diamond and Scott Kirkpatrick.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.




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