Second half push carries Oak Ridge water polo past Cougars
EL DORADO — There were no boys, just girls, at Thursday afternoon’s intra-county, nonleague water polo match between host El Dorado High and Oak Ridge.
Annie Harriman and Amanda Jones each scored five goals for the varsity Lady Trojans and, coupled with strong second half play, Oak Ridge upended the Cougars 13-6 at the Western Slope Aquatic Center on the campus of Union Mine High School.
Oak Ridge outscored the Cougars 8-2 in the final two quarters to pull away, including three quick goals to open the third from a slim 5-4 lead at the break.
“We were patient in the second half and our conditioning helped. We were able to counterattack on offense and find the open players,” said Oak Ridge coach Tim McCormick, the brother of head coach Don McCormick, who was at an out-of-town tournament with the boys’ squad.
Tim had nothing he had to say to the girls after they reeled off three goals to take control with an 8-4 lead at the start of the third quarter; instead, he left the girls treading water during an El Dorado timeout.
“Their experience in the second half beat us and our inexperience stood out,” Cougar coach Marc Hughes said. “There’s no substitute for it (experience) — knowing when to put the ball in the net and then putting it there. But I’m real proud; our girls hung in there every step of the way.”
Harriman drew first blood from the corner off a pass from Jones and came back minutes later to assist on Brittany Eichorn’s only score of the match. El Dorado broke through when goalie Laura Vance disrupted a play in the back and up front, Leah Headd finished with a lob shot to slice the deficit in half.
Emily Uthoff’s follow of her own miss answered for the visitors but Cougar Ellen Tiedemann’s deflected goal kept El Dorado just a goal behind at 3-2. Less than a minute later, Tiedemann duplicated her efforts to tie the score.
“I think we did really well in the first half but we became tired in the second and didn’t finish our shots on offense,” Tiedemann said.
Ashly Ullrich found Jones, who broke the tie, and the Trojans added another on Harriman’s shot from the wing. Liz Danke’s walk-in throw with 26 seconds before halftime pulled the Cougars to within a point.
When play resumed, Jones, Kirsten Banks-Guartney and Jones all scored as Oak Ridge blasted out of the gates. Tiedemann’s long lob over Trojan goalie Korina Grava settled inside the far post to stop the run but Harriman countered before the end of the quarter to put Oak Ridge up 9-5.
Harriman and Jones each scored twice in the fourth to offset Headd’s spinning shot past Grava.
“Usually with our team it takes a quarter to figure out the other team’s weak spots and adjust our technique to their technique. El Dorado was sloughing a lot and we did a good job adjusting,” Harriman said.
The key to Oak Ridge’s victory was its physical defense, especially in the hole set, where the Trojans came up with steals and forced the Cougars into turnovers.
Another victory to report: The JV girls water polo team won the Bear River Tournament in Grass Valley over the weekend, defeating Oakmont, Bear River, El Dorado and Woodcreek to take first place.