In a battle of two teams looking to jumpstart their season, it was the coed South Albany water polo team fighting their way to an 11-2 victory over the boys’ Cottage Grove team on Thursday at Warren H. Daughtery Aquatics Center. With a balanced offensive attack that saw four players score for the away team and a defense that plagued the Lions throughout, the Redhawks (1-5) were able to trouble the Lions (1-4).
“Best game we’ve had all year,” said South Albany head coach Scott Jackson. “They did a nice job of spreading it out around all the players so that everybody got access to the ball. Everybody had access to playing time and that’s what we really want to focus on is spreading that ball around and giving people an opportunity.”
South Albany set the tone early with a goal from Jordan Martinez coming in the first 20 seconds of play. Martinez finished the game with four goals. On the defensive side, Chiara Roskelley was making things difficult for the Lions with her defensive pressure. After forcing a steal, Roskelley found Nathaniel Young on the counterattack for a goal forcing Cottage Grove to call a timeout. The Redhawks led 4-0 after the first quarter.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to do is not get tunnel vision. Pay attention to what’s going on. Much rather be back early protecting the cage instead of giving up so many shots,” said Cottage Grove coach Tyson Pilling.
In the second quarter the Cottage Grove defense was able to slow the opposing attack and were able to find the back of the net. Cottage Grove’s goalie was able to come up with saves and the Lions went to the half down 6-1.
In the second half, it was South Albany’s defense making way for their offense to thrive as they came up with four more goals in the third quarter.
“We’ve been really focusing on cutting off passing lanes. Cutting off where can that ball get to your player from and block it off. Block it off, block it off,” said Scott. “That’s really what the whole defensive strategy was today. All I told them before the game was defensively I want you to cut off the passing lanes. And they did it beautifully.”
In the final quarter, both teams found the back of the net once more. After the game, the Lions were focused on finding the takeaways from the game.
“You can use anything as a way to learn. You can learn a lot more by games you lose than ones you win,” said Pilling. “The biggest thing we’re trying to learn is just focus on the defense. Protecting the cage and coming back is just so important. And we’ve had that some games but unfortunately this wasn’t one of them.”