Trojan water polo ends Bruins’ season

Bryan Cole scored consecutive goals to break a fourth period tie as Oak Ridge held off host Ponderosa 11-9 to close the regular season at the Aquatics Center Wednesday afternoon.

A lot rode on the outcome, hence the big crowd for the final intra-county match under a downpour, sun and a double rainbow. The Trojans’ win gave them second place and knocked the Bruins out of the playoff picture.

Oak Ridge (20-9, 5-1) had a strong start and led by five at one point before Ponderosa’s Graham McClone single-handedly brought his team back. Overall, McClone tallied six goals to tie Cole’s team-high output.

“I was proud of the boys for not losing their composure under the difficult circumstances,” Trojan coach Don McCormick said. “We will need that team play going to playoffs.”

Troy goalie Kasian Strawick was key in the early stages, stopping all Bruin shots his way. Cole’s skip shot opened the scoring and after McClone beat Strawick on a lob, the Oak Ridge defense settled in. Cole added a quick turn shot and Bryan Bare a penalty shot as the Trojans led 3-1 going to the second quarter.

Trevor Dong scored twice from the weakside to force a Bruin timeout and McClone scored when play resumed before Carson Willms found Bare and Kyle Bare turned a steal into a score as Troy extended to 7-2.

McClone angled in a tough shot and used quickness to score on two Trojans as Ponderosa (16-13, 3-3) trailed 7-4 at the half.

The Bruins defense, led by keeper Anthony Yocca held Oak Ridge to just Cole’s goal in the third. Offensively, McClone bounced a shot in, Matthew Marquis followed in a block and McClone’s flush at the horn made it 8-7 after three.

Jake Pensa tied the score early in the fourth after a power bounce shot from the wing. Willms’ pass to Cole on top led to a laser throw inside the right post and Cole then made it 10-8 on a penalty shot. Ponderosa pulled to within one on Marquis’ turn shot but suffered several misses down the stretch, one by McClone off the post.

The Trojans added an insurance goal by Cole before running out the last half minute to end it.

“Everything was riding on today. We previously lost to Jesuit and Oak Ridge beat them so we had to win,” Bruin coach Alan Miller said. “I thought my kids played great. As you saw we were down 7-2 so I told them we ‘had nothing to lose just play like its practice.’ The next quarter was the best they’ve played all year. I couldn’t be more proud.”

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