Led by senior co-captain Alexis Taber’s fourth-quarter heroics, the Bellevue girls water polo team beat Puyallup 7-5 in the State Quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Despite trailing for most of the game, a stout defense kept the game close and a late flurry of goals propelled the Wolverines to the win. Bellevue now advances to Friday’s state semifinals against Gig Harbor.
Bellevue took an early first-quarter lead when Taber converted an outside shot on Bellevue’s second possession of the game. The lead was short-lived, however, as Puyallup answered at the 3:08 mark on a 6-on-5 to even the score. Puyallup added another first-quarter goal at 2:28 to make it 2-1. A botched second-quarter sprint left Puyallup’s sprinter wide open in front of the cage, and the Vikings capitalized to push their lead to 3-1. Taber answered two minutes later to pull the Wolverines to 3-2.
At the 6:12 mark in the third quarter, junior Morgan Baker turned her defender in front of the cage and scored to even the game at 3-3. But with 3:21 in the third quarter, confusion over a ball-under left Puyallup open for an outside shot, which they converted to pull ahead 4-3. On the ensuing possession, junior Sarah Harrison converted a perfect lob over the goalie’s outstretched arms to even the game at 4-4.
The first four minutes of the fourth quarter was a defensive battle, as neither team could score. Finally, with 3:09 to play, Bellevue ripped off three consecutive goals to pull away for the victory. First, Taber converted a post-up to put the Wolverines ahead 5-4. On Bellevue’s next possession, Sophia Schmid scored on a man-up drawn by Taber to stretch Bellevue’s lead to 6-4. On Bellevue’s next possession, Taber struck again on a post-up to make it 7-4 with 1:46 to play. Puyallup answered with a goal at the 1:10 mark, but it was not enough as Bellevue escaped with the 7-5 win.
Junior goalie Sophia Simons anchored the impressive Bellevue defense with five saves and one steal.
Bellevue (19-11) advances to the State semifinals Friday night at 6:30pm against Gig Harbor.