Four years after founding the program as freshman, the 2016 senior class led the Bellevue Wolverines girls water polo team to a fourth-place finish at the 2016 State Tournament. The fourth-place finish was a near-perfect ending for a special group of seniors that started the team despite having no prior experience playing water polo and built the team into one of the top programs in the state.
After falling to Gig Harbor on Friday night with a berth in the state title game on the line, the Wolverines rebounded with 5-2 victory over Mercer Island on Saturday morning. The win over Mercer Island guaranteed the Wolverines a spot in Saturday night’s 3rd/4th game. It was also the third time in three games that the Wolverines held the Islanders to three goals or less this season. Sophomore Natasha Schmid provided the bulk of the offense, scoring two goals and adding one assist. Senior co-captains Alexis Taber and Maggie Ugelstad also scored one goal each. Junior Sophia Schmid tallied one goal as well. Juniors Morgan Baker and goalie Sophia Simons anchored the strong defensive game, with Baker supplying three steals and Simons adding five saves.
In the 3rd/4th game, Bellevue found itself against a familiar foe: league rival Newport High School. Taber got the Wolverines on the board first, scoring on an outside shot at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. Newport answered with two goals, but Natasha Schmid answered to tie the game at 2-2. In the second quarter, three Newport goals helped the Knights build a 5-3 lead despite a second goal from Taber. In the third quarter, the teams traded goals in a back-and-forth affair. Freshman Jenna Frazer scored one and Baker scored the other to keep it a two-goal game heading into the fourth. With the Wolverines trailing 7-5, senior co-captain Maggie Ugelstad drilled an outside shot on Bellevue’s first possession of the fourth quarter to bring it to 7-6. Newport answered a minute later to make it 8-6. A few possessions later, Baker scored her second goal of the game to make it 8-7 with 2:13 left to play. But on its next possession, Newport scored to make it 9-7 and put the game out of reach.
Despite the loss, the Wolverines proudly took home the fourth place trophy, the program’s best finish ever since its relaunch in 2013. It also followed a trend of improving finishes, with the Wolverines failing to qualify for state in 2013, taking 11th in state in 2014, and taking 7th in state in 2015. While the future looks bright for the Wolverines, everyone within the program knows that it will be tough to say goodbye to seniors and program founders Alexis Taber, Maggie Ugelstad, Lisa Courtney, Katherine Shogren, Alexandria Simmons, and Shefali Singh. All six of these seniors have incredible careers and will be missed greatly.
For their outstanding play in the state tournament, four Wolverines earned postseason honors. Baker earned First Team All-State, Taber earned Second Team All-State, and Ugelstad earned Honorable Mention All-State.
Int the championship game, Gig Harbor defeated Curtis to capture their third straight state title.