The West Albany High girls water polo team is looking to make a statement this weekend at the state championships in Beaverton.
The second-seeded Bulldogs (24-5) have made the semifinals and will take on Hillsboro at 1:20 p.m. on Friday.
West finished fifth in the 6A tournament last season after landing the No. 2 seed.
“We were seeded second and just came out real flat,” West coach Rob Romancier said. “The teams were very, very even and we just had a couple things not go our way.”
That experience should come in handy for the Bulldogs, who return all of their starters and five of seven are seniors.
“I think it’s helped a lot this entire year,” Romancier said. “I think if we were 6A this year we’d be top 3.
“We don’t have a dip (in talent), we are solid. We’ve gone and played a ton of 6A teams and I’ve tried to do that throughout the year.”
If the Bulldogs get past Hillsboro, they will most likely face No. 1 seed Hood River in the final. The title game is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“They have two very good players and they’ve got a very good goalie. They’ve got a fair amount of speed on their team,” Romancier said. “(But) two others in the field aren’t good ball handlers and I think we can take advantage of that.”
The West Albany boys are also in the semifinals and looking for a state title.
The Bulldogs (23-7) are the third seed and will play Hood River in the semifinals at 3:40 p.m. on Friday. No. 1 Parkrose and No. 5 Ashland are in the other semifinal. The title game is set for 4:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Coach Rob Nelke said a trip to a big regional tournament in Modesto, California, a few weeks ago gave the team a significant spark.
“We were challenged and we didn’t back down. We faced tough teams (and) learned how to overcome adversity,” Nelke said. “We got tested down there and we learned just what it took to overcome.”
The Bulldogs returned to Oregon and promptly defeated South Salem 21-11 and then North Eugene 19-2.
“We came back and it was like we put a lot of things together. Our defense was stifling opponents. It was nice to see everything come together,” Nelke said.
Eric Formiller was selected as league MVP and Kieran Van Horsen has surpassed the career scoring record by a huge margin. The record was 310 goals by Austin Barton in 2014 and Van Horsen has 411 with at least one more game to go.