Boys Water Polo: Upper Arlington outlasts St. Charles to win regional title

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Jackson Gooding made 13 saves to help Upper Arlington defeat visiting St. Charles 16-12 on May 16 in the North Region final. Both the Golden Bears and Cardinals qualified for the state tournament May 22 at Cincinnati Princeton.

Having won three of the first five games against St. Charles this season, all in close fashion, the Upper Arlington boys water polo team did not expect to cruise past the Cardinals in the North Region final May 16 even after taking a four-goal lead late in the first half.

The host and top-seeded Golden Bears used a four-goal barrage in a 66-second span late in the third quarter to pull ahead for good and held off the second-seeded Cardinals from there, winning 16-12 in a game they never trailed that also featured four ties and five goals on penalty shots.

Grant Gooding, Patrick Ray, Thomas Ray and Avery Voss each had three goals and Jackson Gooding made 13 saves for UA, which improved to 23-4-1. Both the Bears and Cardinals qualified for the state tournament May 22 at Cincinnati Princeton.

“We expect a one- or two-goal game every time. It’s never going to be 20-0,” UA coach J.J. Spangler said. “We were psyched and ready to play. The grit of our players continuing to fight for those inches and those little plays … is what wins those kinds of games. That’s what did it for us.”

UA took a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter thanks to three goals in 33 seconds, only to see St. Charles claw within 7-5 at halftime on goals by Wil Borchers and Matthew Kravitz.

The Cardinals scored three of the first four goals of the third quarter to tie the game at 8, only to see UA score four in a row — three of which came on penalty shots. Thomas Ray scored the first two and Voss the third to make it 12-8.

“It was an all-out battle of attrition. Whoever has the most energy left will come out on top,” said Jimmy Colombo, who scored UA’s final goal with 3:50 left. “St. Charles is our fiercest competition. We always expect them to come out fighting.”

Chase Bateman made 18 saves for St. Charles, which fell to 16-4.

“We have one more week of practice and then it’s a new game next (weekend),” Cardinals coach Andrew Hoffman said. “Hopefully we’ll get to play them again.”

Among other area teams, fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington defeated third-seeded Napoleon 13-5 in the third-place game earlier May 16. Seventh-seeded Worthington Kilbourne fell to fifth-seeded Toledo St. Francis 11-5 in the fifth-place game and sixth-seeded New Albany beat eighth-seeded Sylvania 13-6 for seventh place.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave