"Killpack, poloists shine"

"It was a golden weekend for Bainbridge girls' water polo.The Spartan gold JV team won the state JV championship. And Steve Killpack, Bainbridge's varsity coach, took his purple and gold UW Husky team to the national collegiate club championship. Killpack earned national coach of the year honors in the process, and two Spartan alums made the national all-tournament team.In the high school tournament, the Spartan golds, under the guidance of Jeff Clark, took control early in their opening 5-2 win over Puyallup.They jumped off to a 3-1 first-quarter lead on two Megan Lockwood goals and one from Natalie Berry. Sarah Dean's two fourth-quarter goals put the game away.In the semifinal against Newport, Elizabeth Bailey got Bainbridge off to a good start with two first-quarter goals. Erica Pederson scored in the second quarter, and Bailey added a final tally in the last period for the Spartans' 4-2 win.That moved the golds into the finals against Mercer Island, whose JV team usually dominates, according to Clark. And when Mercer took a 4-2 halftime lead, it looked like more of the same.But the second half was all Bainbridge. Ferocious outside defense limited Mercer to four second-half shots, all of which were stopped by Bainbridge goalie Cassie Callan. A goal from Alex DuPont and one from Dean pulled Bainbridge even. Then with less than two minutes remaining, Dean lofted a cross-pool pass to DuPont, who fired the ball home for the title-clinching goal.Berry's dominating defense was one of the keys to victory, Clark said. She registered five steals against Puyallup, six against Newport and eight against Mercer Island.Berry and Julia Knight were named to the all-tournament first team, and Bailey and DuPont were named to the second team.Bainbridge's white team, made up of freshmen and sophomores, finished eighth in the tournament. After dropping a 4-3 decision to Enumclaw, the whites moved into the consolation round. There, they beat Peninsula 4-0 before bowing 5-4 to Eastside Catholic.Meanwhile in Arizona, the twelve regional winners gathered for the championship of the Collegiate Water Polo Association, an alliance of the roughly 100 colleges that play women's water polo as a club sport rather than a varsity sport. And the location was a big issue.It was in the high 90s all week in Tucson, Killpack said. We're down here with all these girls from the Northwest, and I didn't know how we'd handle the heat.The Huskies got off on the right foot Friday, taking a 9-3 win over Arizona State University. Then on Saturday, they won a pair of games, beating Chico State 9-7 and the host Arizona Wildcats 6-3.Chico was tough, Killpack said. They were probably the only team in the tournament with more speed than we had.Those three wins put UW into the Sunday final against pre-tournament favorite Michigan State. MSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and were ahead 5-3 with two minutes to go. But UW scored three goals while yielding one in the final two minutes to forge a 6-6 tie, then the Huskies won in overtime.And it was Bainbridge alums who made the big plays in championship game. Karin Hoffman, the Huskies' leading tournament scorer, registered two goals in the last quarter. And the only score in the overtime came from Mei-Lin Cooper on a penalty shot. MSU was much bigger and stronger than we were, Killpack said, so I devised a special game plan using a lot of zone and drop-back defenses. And we used our speed on offense to wear them out. The girls executed the plan perfectly, and it worked.For his efforts, Killpack was named coach of the year. It was a great surprise, he said. I had no idea how we'd match up against clubs from other parts of the country.Hoffman and Cooper were named to the all-tournament first team."

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