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Auburn Riverside tops Auburn Mountainview for fifth-place in state | Prep boys water polo
Four times this season the Auburn Riverside and Auburn Mountainview boys water polo teams had met.
Three times during the regular season the Lions had beaten their district rivals, narrowly besting the Ravens in tight matches.
This past Saturday during the Washington State Water Polo championships at the Curtis Pool it was Auburn Riverside’s turn, the squad squeaking by Auburn Mountainview with a 7-6 overtime win in a battle for fifth- and sixth-place.
“We did it when it counted,” Ravens coach Mike Van Eaton said. “Those other three games were really close. One went into overtime and the other two were just by a couple goals. But when it really mattered, we rose to the top.”
Auburn Riverside seemed firmly in control, with a 6-3 lead in the fourth period.
The Lions mounted a comeback, however, with senior Hunter Arnold finding the back of the goal with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game. Auburn Mountainview junior Brady Gardner added a goal to bring the score to 6-5, and junior Riley King tied the game at 6-6 with less than 10 seconds left, pushing the match into overtime.
With less than a second left on the clock, Raven senior Matty Benabid delivered the victory, squeaking one past Lion goalkeeper Jackson Sulewski.
“It felt amazing,” Benabid said. “It’s nothing without my teammates, but scoring the winning goal is really cool, especially against our rivals.”
“It feels real good, especially since we were so close in the last two games,” Auburn Riverside senior Thomas Henline said. “The first one (against Auburn Mountainview) went to double-overtime, and the other two were just one-point losses that were really close down the stretch. It feels really good to finally pull one out like this.”
Van Eaton, still sopping wet from his victory plunge into the pool, praised the play of his team during the tourney.
“We had a strong group of seniors that have spent four years preparing,” he said. “We had our ‘A’ game the entire tournament and we did it here.”
“It felt like it was [our game to win],” he said. “It felt like we just missed on chances in our other games and just couldn’t capitalize. In this game we did, even though we missed some. We definitely made the plays we needed to and stepped up our defense a lot. It’s good to go out on a win in our senior season.”
Henline, Benabid and senior Adam Benabid all were named as all-tournament honorable mentions, with Auburn Mountainview’s Hunter Arnold and Brady Gardner also honored.