Sporting a young starting lineup, Wilson girls water polo coach John Orlando saw the need to continue to get his first group extensive experience at Stadium. His team responded, as senior Pearl Kahle and freshman Karli Stevenson scored three goals apiece to lead the Rams to a 7-4 win over the Tigers on April 18.
“I didn’t sub any players,” said Orlando, who also serves as the executive director of Tacoma Water Polo Club. “I left all six of my girls in the whole time. We’re starting three freshmen right now. They need the game experience, so we decided just to work on things.”
Kahle started the scoring midway through the first quarter, getting the Rams on the board with a point-blank shot into the right netting. Stevenson followed two minutes later with a goal on a breakaway to make it 2-0. But the Tigers held tough, as sophomore keeper Chloe Brick had four key saves in the first quarter to keep them in it. Senior Rachel Clark then got Stadium on the board with a long-range goal with 22 seconds left in the opening period.
The Tigers’ Nicole Soriano tied it a minute into the second quarter, sending a shot off Wilson keeper Lindsey Norden and in.
“I always tell them if you don’t take shots you can’t score,” said Stadium head coach Virginia Larson. “It’s a really even distribution with our girls. Everybody tries to take shots, not just one girl.”
But Stevenson responded less than a minute later, regaining the lead for Wilson with a goal from the left side, sending it past Brick and into the right netting. Norden came up big late in the first half for the Rams, saving shots by Soriano and Maddie Lackman, while Clark also had a shot go off the post.
Kahle added her second goal four minutes into the third quarter, and Stevenson followed 40 seconds later with her third tally off a nice pass from Norden to make it 5-2. Stadium’s Megan Winje cut it to 5-3 with a goal with 5:40 left in the final quarter, but Kahle answered with her final goal just over a minute later, and freshman Kelsey Viehmann scored with 2:49 left to give the Rams some breathing room at 7-3. The Tigers created late pressure, and Amber Longrie struck for a goal with just over a minute remaining, but Stadium was unable to close the gap any further.
The win put Wilson at 8-3 overall and 7-2 in league play, which was good for second place. Were they to stay in that position, they would sew up a spot at the state tournament, which takes place on May 15-18 at Rogers High School, Lakes High School and Curtis High School.