Jesuit girls lacrosse crowned 'culmination champion'
It wasn't technically a state championship, but it feels the same for a Jesuit girls lacrosse team that fought the good fight.
After falling behind 5-0 to Lincoln in the final of the "culmination week" double-elimination tournament May 21, the Crusaders rallied to tie the game, then capped the game and season with a Sydney Landauer sudden-death goal in triple overtime to defeat the Cardinals 10-9, setting off a raucous celebration in the wake of what had been a truly great contest.
"You couldn't ask for a better game," Jesuit head coach Lauren Blumhardt said. "It was just two great teams going back-and-forth in a nailbiter, and when that goal went in, it was just an awesome feeling."
The win was especially sweet for Jesuit who was able to avenge what had been their only loss of the season, an 11-10 defeat to the Cardinals May 4. Blumhardt confirmed the added incentive, telling The Times that her players — whom she said like to play with a chip on their shoulder — used the loss as added motivation to work both leading up to and during the game.
"I tell our girls that it's not really a loss unless you don't learn from it," the coach said. "We were able to learn from that loss and watch a lot of film so as to be better prepared the next time."
Landauer's goal came as no surprise. The senior ranks in the top 10 among girls high school lacrosse players in the West and top 25 in the nation, and the standout finished with 63 goals this season — among 200 in her three-season Jesuit career.
"She's just a phenomenal player," Blumhardt said.
In all, Blumhardt said she leaned heavily on her four seniors — Landauer, Ziggy Berkoff, Amanda Kerr and Eliza Daigle — for leadership on and off the field. Among others, she mentioned that goalie Sydney Partovi was also a key ingredient to the team's success.
"She's just a sophomore," the coach said of Partovi, "but she was second-team all-league and really helped us to hang in there."
Daigle was forced to play out of position for much of the tail end of the season, stepping into the draw after sophomore Tessa Randall was forced to the bench due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols. Randle was able to return for the culmination games, but Daigle's potency remained apparent despite her quiet demeanor.
"She's naturally an attacker but adjusted really well," Blumhardt said. "She's one of those who's silent but deadly. She's not the loudest player, but you definitely don't want to take your eyes off of her or she'll take you to the goal."
Trailing a team like Lincoln 5-0, the Crusaders could have quit, considering what was stacked against them. But Blumhardt said that tackling adversity is something she's come to expect from this team.
From the uncertainties of the year and season due to COVID-19, to the earlier season loss to the Cardinals, she's come to admire the fight in her girls.
"We always tried to remain hopeful and grateful for every opportunity we got," Blumhardt said. "The team had to make a lot of adjustments during the year, before this game and of course during it, being down so much so early. But they worked their tails off, and I couldn't be more proud as a coach."
And the future? It's bright for a Jesuit team that while losing four exceptional seniors, returns 18 of their 22 rostered players, and equally bright for a sport that continues to gain momentum in the state of Oregon.
"To snag a championship game in a culmination final was just awesome, and I'm really looking forward to this team returning next season," Blumhardt said. "Girls lacrosse is growing so much in Oregon, and the level of camaraderie and competition across the state is just awesome."
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