(This article was originally published on JMcDonaldMedia.com)
By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– A year ago Sprague Lacrosse shocked West Salem in the regular season with a 15-14 win over the Titans.
West Salem would answer in the league playoffs to clinch their sixth-straight North Valley League Championship a few short games later and quickly jumped on the Olympians slow start Thursday evening for the 14-8 win.
“We came in knowing that we had to put the pedal to the metal the entire time. We came out and executed and just built up from that right until the end,” said the Titans Eric Frazer.
West Salem found themselves exploding off the faceoff with Jack Livengood and finding their offensive prowess against a Sprague defense and an Olympian team healing up from illness on top of the injury bug that has plaqued the squad this season.
But, down 4-0 early Sprague cut it down to a two-goal lead after a Jeremy Buyserie goal early in the second quarter. It was one of two goals scored by Buyserie in the game.
It was weird to think by halftime the Oly offense that had scored at least ten goals in each of their last five games, all victories, that they were held to three first half goals in an 8-3 ballgame. One thing was the defense that the Titans are known for over the past several years, but the big thing too were the turnovers that allowed West Salem to turn into offensive possessions on the other side of the pitch.
“The turnovers really hurt us, it was really frustrating because we’re a lot better than this,” said Sprague’s Zac Gywn. “(West Salem) is a good team, their defense is really solid but we should have came out hotter.”
The Sprague defense held the Titan offense to three third quarter goals while scoring two of their own. Entering the fourth, the Olympians looked like their regular selves on the field.
Strong defense that only allowed a Frazer goal early on as Sprague transitioned into their offense. However, with roughly seven opportunities in a span of three minutes, they only mustered a Zac Attack goal from Gwyn to get themselves to 12-7 of West Salem.
“They did great. The offense for Sprague didn’t have any opportunities,” said Frazer, who scored four goals in the win. “They took the ball away at times and cleared it very well, they were part of the reason why we won this game by so much.”
The Titans added two insurance goals from Rhett Cooper and Livengood before Elias Polaski scored the last goal of the night for Sprague with 2:08 left in the game.
With Aloha Tuesday at Aloha for their final non-league game before finishing off league at West Albany (May 3) before hosting South Salem for Senior Night (May 7) to start May sitting 2-1 in the NVL Standings, the Olympians know there’s a possibility come League Playoffs to knock off the six-time champs off their pedestal come league playoffs.
“This only motivates us more, it makes us work harder in practice and we’ll come out playoff-wise ready,” said Gwyn.
West Salem will be at McNary on May 3 and host the Bulldogs of West Albany (10-2, 2-0 North Valley League) on May 7 for their Senior Night.
Logan Smith added two goals for Sprague. Cooper and Livengood were two of four West Salem Lacrosse players who scored two goals in the win.