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The Beavers rally from four goals down to win the state championship 9-8 on Saturday



TIMES PHOTO: CHRIS OERTELL - The Beaverton High team poses after winning the Boys Lacrosse State Championship game at Beaverton High School in Beaverton, Oregon on Saturday.

Faced with a four-goal deficit with just over one quarter to play in Saturday’s Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state championship game, Beaverton head coach Bidnam Lee said he realized it wasn’t X’s and O’s or magical play calls that would give the top-ranked Beavers a chance to rally against an inspired Jesuit squad.

Instead, Beaverton dug deep, showed some extreme mettle and netted five unanswered goals to earn a 9-8 victory and its first state championship at Beaverton High School.

“Honestly, when you’re down like that in the second half, there’s nothing that I could say to get them back in it,” Lee said. “I just told them to play their hearts out and said 'If you guys step up and fight for each other, we can win.' It’s humbling because I can’t coach what brought us back.”

The game-winner came with just three minutes remaining when Beaverton junior Nate Johnnie picked up a loose ball near the Crusaders' crease and beat Jesuit goalie Beckley Groh for his third — and biggest — score of the contest.

“Matt Hockman was doubled and the ball popped out. It was just a loose ball,” said Johnnie. “I picked it up, faked left and shot right low. I was just hanging around the crease.”

Beaverton senior Carter Olsen and Jesuit sophomore Sam Handley each scored three times in the title contest.

“When we were down 8-4, we were saying 'We can’t give up now,'” added Olsen, who plans to play club lacrosse at Oregon State University next year. “We’ve been down before and came back. We didn’t rush.”

With the win, the top-ranked Metro League champion Beavers finished their season at 18-2 and riding a 14-game winning streak.

It was a game of runs and momentum swings between the Metro League rivals. The third-ranked Crusaders (18-5 overall after a second-place finish in legue play) seemed to come out with more energy. Two goals from Handley and one from junior midfielder Tucker Dordevic on its first three possessions gave Jesuit a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest.

TIMES PHOTO: CHRIS OERTELL - Beaverton High midfielder Mitchell Senour #13, Beaverton High midfielder Eric Hurd #18 and Beaverton High midfielder Nate Oekerman #10 try to pick up the ball during the Boys Lacrosse State Championship game at Beaverton High School on Saturday.

But the Beavers came roaring back with four consecutive goals — two from Johnnie and two from Olsen — in the final five minutes of the opening quarter to grab the lead.

"That’s actually what we coach. We say (to) prepare for a game of runs.” said Lee. “Jesuit has a very good offense and they’re going to score. You’ve just got to keep your head up, focus on the next play, and do your best.”

Beaverton senior defender Nate Oekerman, who will join the lacrosse program at NCAA Division III Concordia University Wisconsin, said the Beavers were prepared for a back and forth battle.

“Coach always tells us it’s a game of runs. They’re going to score goals, but we can score goals too,” he said.

“(Jesuit) is a very good team, talented across the board. They played amazing today, but it’s nice to go out this way. To be on top means a lot, especially with these guys.”

Both teams made some defensive adjustments in the second quarter and there was a stretch that saw only one goal over 17 combined possessions.

TIMES PHOTO: CHRIS OERTELL - Beaverton High attacker Nate Johnnie #9 gets a hard hit from Jesuit High defender Jarred Daul #23 during the Boys Lacrosse State Championship game at Beaverton High School on Saturday.

Dordevic’s second score had tied things early in the period, and senior attacker Andrew Krantz found the back of the net later to give Jesuit a 5-4 halftime edge.

The Crusaders carried their momentum into the second half, too. Two goals from senior midfielder Jackson Hering, along with Handley’s third score, pushed the Crusaders' lead to 8-4 midway through the third quarter.

On its end, Beaverton was struggling to make plays on offense and had gone nearly 22 minutes without scoring.

“We weren’t getting the ball much on offense. And when we did, we were trying to force too much and our defense was getting tired,” said Johnnie.

Olsen agreed with his teammate’s sentiments.

“I thought Jesuit was playing their best and we were doing some dumb things. We weren’t possessing well on offense,” he said.

TIMES PHOTO: CHRIS OERTELL - Beaverton High attacker Anthony Kerkar #7 takes a shot during the Boys Lacrosse State Championship game at Beaverton High School on Saturday.

The Beavers finally ended their scoring drought when junior midfielder Chandler Badon broke free and slipped a low shot into the back of the twine, beginning the comeback late in the third quarter.

Beaverton’s rally continued into the fourth on Olsen’s third score with 10:38 remaining.

Following an unsportsmanlike penalty on Jesuit, Beavers junior Anthony Kerkar winged a hip shot past Groh to make it 8-7 several minutes later.

Badon then stepped up again and bounced one in to even things up with five minutes left on the clock.

“When we came back, our guys were just flying around. That was a great effort,” Lee continued. “When we face a deficit, it’s easy to try and get everything back at once. There was a lot of weird turnovers and we stepped in the crease three times. When you miss passes and you’re making errors, you try to do the best you can with the things you can control.”

One area that the Beavers controlled well was the face-off circle, where junior Mitchell Senour helped Beaverton gain 13 of 20 possessions off the draw.

“Face-offs were kind of a struggle with the heat. I just kept putting my head in an ice chest to cool down and seemed to be working,” said Senour.

TIMES PHOTO: CHRIS OERTELL - Jesuit High attacker Sam Handley #14 takes a shot during the Boys Lacrosse State Championship game at Beaverton High School

“We were down, but I had faith in my team. The fact is that we’re a family and we can conquer anybody. Next year we’ll have something even bigger to do.”

Johnnie is looking forward to a chance at a repeat title in 2017 as well.

“I’d love to come back and do it again,” he said. “Jesuit and us go back and forth and we will again next year.”

Jesuit outshot Beaverton 31-20, which included a 13-11 advantage in shots on goal.

Though short in stature, Beavers senior goalie Kyler Banks stood tall and turned away five Crusader shots. Groh finished with a pair of saves for Jesuit.

Dordevic, Handley and seniors Eric Restic and Noah Monahan were first-team all-state for the Crusaders, while Kerkar, Olsen and Senour received first-team honors for Beaverton.

Lee, who was named OHSLA Co-Coach of the Year along with Summit’s Luke Hansen, pointed out that the Beavers' title run and, specifically, the championship-game comeback, were the result of four years of hard work during his tenure as head coach.

“We tried right from the start to build a culture of hard work and accountability. We wanted to make sure that everything we were doing was to make our players better people and not turn it into a win-at-all-cost program. We’re a growth-at-all-cost program,” he said. “When you come back from four down in the state title game, it’s not just one season. It’s what we’ve been coaching for the last three seasons. To get them to buy into what you we are trying to teach them so that at moments like this ,you can rise up and overcome. I think it’s validation for the way we run our program.”

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