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Team Ray seventh at state
With two seconds left in the game, one final Bainbridge possession and the score tied at 8-8, Team Ray had one last trick up its sleeve. A coach Mead trick.
Senior goaltender Stuart Stringer positioned himself at mid-pool, while the rest of the mens varsity water polo team massed around the front of the opposing goal like a school of piranha.
The Kentridge players were visibly befuddled, looking to their bench and to each other for any clue as to just what the Bainbridge players were planning.
Then, like a boat motor gone from stop to full throttle, Team Ray churned water at the whistle, fanning out as Stringer launched a bomb at the goal mouth.
The final horn sounded as the ball hit the back of the net, and both the Bainbridge bench and crowd erupted in cheers.
The final score should have been 9-8. But, the ball had gone straight from Stringers hand to the Kentridge twine -- no Bainbridge player had tipped the incoming shot. And according to water polo rules and regulations, a goaltender simply cannot score goals.
Well, we tried, said senior Jake Christensen as the team prepared for two three-minute overtime periods. That was the freakiest way all year.
That was a play that Jacob and I knew that, apparently, they didnt, head coach Trick said. But no one touched it, and (Stuart) cant shoot it.
We decided on the play five seconds before we broke huddle, Christensen said. It was kind of unclear.
They looked pretty upset about it, laughed senior Josh Johnson.
After Fridays 12-3 drubbing of Curtis and 5-3 loss to Shorewood, Bainbridge found themselves matched up against number one seed Mercer Island.
The Islanders had outscored Auburn and Wilson 39-3, and this wasnt the Saturday matchup Team Ray had hoped for when the tournament rankings were posted.
We went out with the hope just of giving Mercer Island a good game, Trick said.
Team Ray held the Islanders to only three goals in the first period, with Jake Santelli and Christensen putting points on the board for Bainbridge.
But it was tough going after that.
Mercer Island scored 18 unanswered goals over the next three periods, leaving Bainbridge to play Shorewood that afternoon -- a game Ray would drop 9-6.
So it goes, Trick commented, and Bainbridge moved on to Sundays matchup against Kentridge for the 7th/8th place spots.
Bainbridge opened the game with a hard shot from senior Paul Clark, which was stopped by Kentridge goalie Jon Orton. Team Ray then found themselves down a man after a Christensen foul, and the Chargers capitalized on the advantage by taking a 1-0 lead.
A Kentridge fast-break on the next play saw the ball in Jared Vermillions hands, and he lofted a high, arcing shot from the left side over Stringer to go up by two.
Clark streaked in to pick off a long lead pass, which set up the Spartan offensive attack. A deflected shot ended up in Michael Steven-McRaes possession, and he passed to Santelli, who flipped a no-look shot around Erik Anderson for the first Spartan goal of the game.
But Team Ray ended up man-down again, and Kentridges Anderson placed an easy shot to Stringers low right side for a goal.
Santelli came back to the front of the Kentridge net, and despite being repeatedly dunked by a pair of Kentridge players, brought the score to 3-2 with 1:30 left to play in the first.
As the second period began, Santelli tied the game on another no-looker. Johnson gave Team Ray a go-ahead goal on a hard shot from the slot, using Santelli and Kentridges Bret Tingey as a screen.
Stringer held the game to 7-7 in the third when Kentridges Jesse Santana whipped a pass to Cameron Simmons -- Simmons redirected the ball and Stringer flared up out of the water to smother the shot.
Fifteen seconds into the final period, Clark passed to Christensen, who got the ball to Jon Swanson for a tally on the Kentridge doorstep.
Stringer stopped a four-meter penalty shot by Tingey, but three fouls left Team Ray scrambling and Tingey finally deflected a blast off of Stringer that caromed to the top right corner of the net.
The score held at eight apiece until the final two seconds of the game, when Tricks crafty play was unveiled.
But the game ended deadlocked, and a pair of three-minute OT periods were necessary to settle the battle for seventh and eighth place.
A Christensen steal led to a foul on Brian Stock, and Christensens penalty shot found twine with 1:12 left in the first OT period.
Little more than 38 seconds later, Swanson ripped a shot from mid-pool that bypassed two Kentridge defenders for a 10-8 Team Ray lead. Kentridges Simmons caressed a soft shot over Stringer to pull within one, but Bainbridge held out for the 10-9 victory, and seventh place in the tournament.
I knew we had it in us, weve beaten Kentridge pretty handily in the past, Trick said. It was a good game to go out on.