Photos by Nicholas Mattson/Paso Robles Press
Paso Robles High School junior Zach Tucker shoots the final goal of the game against San Luis Obispo on Tuesday. Tucker scored the goal in the final minute to give Paso Robles a 12-8 lead over the Tigers.
Paso Robles comes from behind to win against San Luis Obispo at home
Playing like a tenaciously-tentacled “stop-tupus,” senior goalie Iver Hansen batted down shots in Paso Robles High School varsity boys water polo game against San Luis Obispo on Tuesday to earn a single-game school record 24 saves and lead the Bearcats to a win over the Tigers, 12-8.
“Iver Hansen had a monster game,” McRoy said. “He is imposing in the shallow end, standing at 6-feet-6-inches, with his wingspan. That was part of our game plan, to force them to shoot in spots that looked good, but we knew from practicing all the time in it, that it is a hard place to beat a tall goalie. They played into our hands a little bit there.”
Before the tides turned, San Luis Obispo went up quickly in the first quarter, taking a 4-0 lead in the first 3:00 of the game.
“The first quarter was scary, because we were forcing the ball,” McRoy said, “we hit posts and made some bad passes — we were caught deep and they were counter attacking us. It was 4-0 before we scored.”
Paso Robles settled down, and went on its own 4-0 run to tie the game with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
“Then we relaxed and started doing the things we were preparing for,” McRoy said. “At the end of the quarter, it was 5-4, so I was happy that we didn’t panic when they went ahead.”
With the Tigers’ defense working on two of the higher profile players, PRHS junior John Nash led the comeback.
“John Nash was one of the guys we highlighted in this game because we knew they would double team Zach [Tucker] and Mason [Steiner],” McRoy said. “John would be free if he just kept swimming. He was the one who led that return with three goals in that quarter.”
The second quarter went even better for the Bearcats, with a 6-0 run carrying them to a 10-5 lead at the half.
“We are fairly solid in our defensive end down here,” McRoy said. “I knew we would get counter attack goals, and we sure did.”
Nash scored the equalizer, :45 into the second quarter, to tie the game, 5-5. PRHS juniors Jakob Dewhurst and Tucker scored the next four, with two each. Senior Brandon Halebsky scored the final goal of the half with :33 left.
In the third quarter, Paso Robles moved back to defend the deep end of the pool, which is typically an advantage for the offense. San Luis Obispo outscored Paso Robles 2-1 in the quarter, but despite the advantage for the Tigers, Hansen continued to dominate the goal.
On multiple occasions, Hansen batted down some close-range shots by SLO with authority, adding to his record-setting stat line. With his long arms, he scooped up the loose balls and sent his Bearcats down on offense.
Paso Robles held onto the lead, although the Tigers crept back within three goals at one point.
Tucker put the final touch on the game with a one-on-one drive against the SLO goalie, and scored with :53 left for a 12-8 lead.
“San Luis Obispo kept at it,” McRoy said. “They battled back, and got within three to close the game. One or two mistakes on us that they did not capitalize on, and it could have been a one- or two goal game at crunch time. They didn’t quit. They can walk away with their heads up, and they made us play our best to beat them.”
The win was the second of the season for the Bearcats against the Tigers.
“We played them in the Conejo Tournament,” McRoy said. “Zach Tucker had eight goals, and Mason Steiner had four. So I was expecting them to double-team those guys, and make like really hard for them. They kind of did, but they were not doubling them outside. So we were getting good looks after a while. I was happy with that.”
There will be a possibility for the Bearcats and the Tigers to meet one more time this season, and McRoy will get his team ready for whatever the PAC 8 League tournament holds — but this win was a big one for the team.
“Last year we played them, and we just got slaughtered,” McRoy said. “Now to come back and beat them twice is just awesome. We might see them a third time, in the league tournament. Beating somebody three times in a row is really hard. They will know us, and we will have to adjust again, and make them take away our strengths.”
Paso Robles (2-0 PAC 8, 9-4 overall) travels to Santa Maria for a game against Pioneer Valley on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
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