skip navigation

Boys Water Polo Caps Great Season With 4th Place Finish in State, Two All-State Honorees

By Joe Barber, 05/17/22, 11:00PM CDT


The Stratford Boys Water Polo team capped off a great season with an incredible run at the State Tournament which was held May 7th-8th at the University of Houston.

vs. Clear Lake

The boys kicked off the tournament on Friday morning against Clear Lake. The first period was very even and ended in a 4-4 tie. Tyler Barber led the way with 2 goals, and Luke Barber and Parker Kooyman pitched in a goal each. In the second period, Stratford scored first on Tyler's 3rd goal of the game, but Clear Lake answered with 2 goals to take the lead. Stratford then responded with 2 of their own, 1 by Gavin Beach and 1 more by Tyler Barber, to take a 7-6 lead into the half. The third period was another strong period for the Spartans as goalie Andy Zhuri made a number of great saves, and the offense continued to roll with goals by Kyle Brown and Bryce Oliphant and 2 more from Tyler. This gave the Spartans an 11-8 lead at the end of the 3rd. In the fourth period, Clear Lake made a spirited effort but was unable to catch up to the Spartans. Bryce Oliphant, Kyle Brown, and Gavin Beach each had a goal and the Spartans triumphed 14-12.

vs. Flower Mound Marcus

In the second game on Friday, the Spartans squared off against Flower Mound Marcus. This game was a defensive battle in the first period with both teams struggling to find the goal. Gavin Beach and Tyler Barber scored the only Spartan goals and the game was knotted at 2 apiece at the end of the period. In the second period, the offenses got things going a little bit more but it was still a back and forth affair. Tyler Barber scored 3 goals and Luke Barber added another, and this period closed in another tie at 6 apiece. Some more brilliant play by Andy Zhuri in goal propelled the Spartans to a 9-7 lead at the end of the third. Lowell Moss, Gavin Beach, and Tyler all found the back of the net in the 3rd. The fourth period was another hard-fought period. Luke Barber and Eric Jackson provided the scoring with a goal apiece and Andy continued to pace the defensive effort as the Spartans held on for the 11-10 victory and advanced on to the semi-finals.

vs. St. Mark's

On Saturday in the semi-finals, the Spartans went up against the defending State Champions from St. Mark's. St. Mark's jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Tyler Barber answered with 2 goals to narrow the gap to 3-2. St. Mark's then added a goal which Tyler quickly answered. A late goal by St. Mark's gave them a 5-3 lead after 1. In the second period Tyler and Luke Barber each found the back of the net to tie the game up at 5, but St. Mark's was able to answer that with two goals of their own to take a 7-5 lead into halftime. Unfortunately, St. Mark's depth started to wear down the Spartans in the third quarter, and St. Mark's ran off 6 goals before Parker Kooyman could answer for the Spartans. St. Mark's would go on to add 3 more goals in the 4th period to close out their 16-6 victory.

vs. Strake Jesuit

In the 3rd place game Stratford squared off against our district foe Strake Jesuit for the third time in the last month--this time with even more on the line. Stratford jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a goal by Bryce Oliphant and a pair of goals from Tyler Barber. Strake would answer with 4 goals in the period and would take a 4-3 lead after 1. In the second period, Tyler Barber tied the game at 4 before Strake reeled off 4 goals. Tyler closed the period with a goal to cut the Strake lead to 8-5 at the half. The Spartans came out determined in the second half. Tyler got the scoring started, but Strake answered. Luke Barber then found the back of the net and Tyler connected shortly after that to pull within 9-8. The Spartans had a chance to tie it up at 9, but a great save by the Strake goalie turned them away, and he then made a great pass to create an easy transition goal and give Strake a lead they would never relinquish. The period ended 11-8. In the fourth period, Strake pulled away and cruised to a 15-10 victory and the Spartans had to settle for 4th place.

This was the best boys finish in school history and capped off a really great year in grand fashion. Tyler Barber led the tournament in scoring and was named 1st Team All-State, and Gavin Beach was recognized for his tremendous defensive efforts with Honorable Mention for the All-State team. Next season Water Polo becomes a UIL sport, and the boys will be looking to make another deep run in the state tournament. Congratulations to our graduating seniors Tyler Barber, Gavin Beach, and Eric Jackson for playing their hearts out for us.