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Team Ray squeezes out Newport
If revenge is a dish best served cold, the outdoor pool at Newport Hills Swim and Tennis Club was certainly a fitting venue.
With temperatures in the low 60s and a cold, sporadic drizzle coming down, Bainbridge and Newport varsity water polo clubs met for the first time since last Novembers state championship semi-final game -- where Team Ray knocked out the Knights 13-11 to secure the second-place spot.
Despite the chill, Spartan senior Paul Clark came out blazing in the first period, putting Team Ray on the scoreboard a minute and 20 seconds into the game.
Newports Casey McDonald countered 34 seconds later, and the back-and-forth rivalry began in earnest.
Clark ripped a shot from mid-pool for a goal, and then McDonald broke into the Spartan end -- only to be challenged by senior goalkeeper Stuart Stringer -- who was ten feet out of his cage to cut down McDonalds angle. Stringer got his right hand on the shot and deflected it aside with a loud smack that Newport would hear time and time again throughout the evening.
The Knights tied the game at two apiece at 2:44, but Clark came back to notch a first-period hat trick on a backhand shot, despite being smothered by Newports defense.
With less than 30 seconds left in the period, Newport lobbed a short shot that drifted over Stringers outstretched arms and into the goal, tying the game.
Not to be outdone, Spartan co-captain Jake Christensen threw a long floater for a goal with 12 seconds left. Advantage - Bainbridge.
Starting the second period in the deep end of the Newport Hills pool, John Swanson fed sophomore Jake Santelli a pass for a backward shot right in front of the Newport cage for a goal.
A pair of Knights shots clattered high off the crossbar as the Spartan defense clamped down in the deep end.
Santelli notched another goal on a penalty throw at 5:08 to bring the score to 6-3, and goalie Stringer smacked away three booming shots at close range to keep Newport off the board for the remainder of the second quarter.
A mere 17 seconds into the third, Christensen tallied his second goal of the night on another long and lofty shot, but Newports Matt Wyszogrodzki answered with the Knights fourth goal, despite a Spartan doubleteam.
Fighting off Jake Laflin, Santelli put one in net for Team Ray at 5:50, but Newport fought back to bring the score to 8-5. Clark scored again for Bainbridge at 5:17 and, bolstered by a four point lead, Stringer dug into his net and repelled a flurry of Newport shots. Playing a man down due to a Spartan foul, Stringer blocked a hard shot with his chin, and stopped a point-blank cannon with a flash of his right arm.
Newport finally got one by Stringer with 42 seconds left in the third, using side-to-side passes and a snappy shot.
Christensen warmed up the chilly pool in the fourth, skipping a rocket past the Newport goalie at 6:12, only to have Newports tag team of Wyszogrodzki and Laflin bring the score to 10-8 a few minutes later.
Michael Steven-McRae took a pass from Read Slichter and buried it before the Newport keeper could move from left to right.
Two more opposition goals brought the score to 11-10, but Christensen displayed his soft touch at 2:26 to take the Sparts up by two.
A Bainbridge foul left room for a man-up Newport goal at 2:20, and again, Christensen answered with an airy shot into the net as the Newport keeper came out to challenge.
Newport made the score 13-12 with just over a minute to play, and after a missed Spartan shot, the Knights Laflin broke in on Stringer one-on-one. With 40 seconds remaining in the game, he cocked the ball back and fired a last-ditch laser.
Stringer flared out of the water and took the ball square in the chest with one final, loud smack. He covered the rebound, and that would be Newports final opportunity to score.
Stuart was awesome, said coach Mead Trick of the Blue team goalkeeper. He was on fire last night. He made some crazy saves.
Team Ray is now 2-2 going into Monday nights matchup against Curtis at BHS. The Blue team plays at 6 p.m.
***Gold, White teams fall to Newport
The Spartan Gold team played a hard-fought game against Newport, but lost 11-2. Bainbridge Gold team goals were scored by James Bailey and Dillon Maslach.
Newport also sunk the Bainbridge White team 10-2 Thursday night. Goals were scored by Austin Hallett and Austin Ingalls.