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Cougars overrun Pioneers in rematch on the road to claim second league victory

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby's Jake Kahut scores on the Oregon City goalie. Canby boys' lacrosse squad made it a pair of victories over Three Rivers League (TRL) foe Oregon City on Thursday, May 2. The Cougars took to the road and defeated the Pioneers 13-4 to earn their second league victory.

Canby moves into fourth place in league, two games behind third place West Linn, and a half game ahead of Clackamas. Canby's overall record now stands at 7-6.

"The team's defense is stepping up," Canby coach Jake McDonald said after the game. "It's getting later in the season, the teams seniors are playing more like seniors. Overall, team defense with our middies coming down to help, it's all starting to click. Just a little later than we expected, but it's happening."

The Cougars got things started in the Oregon City rematch on the right foot. After playing solid defense through the first four minutes of the opening quarter, Canby got on the board thanks to a goal from Jake Kahut at 7:19. Junior Ronan Gay had the assist.

Oregon City answered quickly though, knocking in a goal less than a minute later, and things were tied up at one apiece.

Undeterred, Michael Jaszewski ran the length of the field and snuck the ball past the Oregon City keeper with a goal at 4:38 of the first quarter. That started a cascade of scores for Canby, who put the ball in the net three more times before the end of the half. Oregon City managed just one other goal in that time. PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby's Ronan Gay battles with an Oregon City defender.

At the start of the second half, Oregon City closed things to within two points. The Pioneers scored a goal less than a minute into the third quarter, but Canby was unphased. The Cougars scored five straight goals in response, including an unassisted goal from Jack Linman, slung from the hip just past the Oregon City keeper.

To close out the game, Canby went on a 3-1 run to finish the game 13-4. Connor Saltmarsh led the way with four goals, followed by Kahut and Linman with two apiece, and Jaszewski, Kaden Boyd, Nate Bailey, Kyler Boyd, and Noah Hansen with one each.

The team's offense recently underwent a change. Moving from a 2-2-2 formation to 1-3-2 in an effort to maximize the teams scoring potential, and recent contests show it working well. McDonald discussed what he called 'good, controlled shots' after the contest.

"We run a 2-2-2, and they also have been running a 1-2-3, kind of a sweep offense," McDonald said. "It works very well. These young guys are just figuring out the offense. We're a very young team that's just coming together, we got sophomores and juniors, very few seniors, so stuff like that is going to happen."

The other X-factor in the second Oregon City was simply his team's determination. The squad won a majority of the face offs and ground balls due in small part to Nathan Purtzer, and was quick to harass the attacking Pioneer offense. PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby's Tyler Mead scoops up the ball while avoiding an Oregon City defender.

"A lot of the stats are just hustle," McDonald said. "You can practice as much as you want to go get a ground ball, but at the end of the day the man is going to come up with it. It's also a team effort, it takes three guys to get that ground ball. We're executing too. It's executing all the way around. It doesn't matter who we have in."

With just three league games to go, and four contests total left on the schedule, Canby has its eyes set on the postseason. Currently sitting at 12th in the state rankings, the Cougars still have No. 1 Lakeridge and No. 2 West Linn on their schedule, as well as No. 11 Clackamas. A non-league game against Beaverton on Monday, May 13 will serve as Canby's senior night.

Despite dealing with a myriad of lingering injuries and the tough schedule ahead, McDonald is confident in his squad's ability to get the job done.

"These guys have always been intimidated by West Linn, Lakeridge, Lake Oswego, but now they're comfortable and realize they're just like them," McDonald said. "They've been such powerhouses for so long, kids get the jitters and are nervous and a lot of times don't come out to play. But they're playing and battling now, getting ready for playoffs. We're going to battle them."

McDonald and the team are so confident that they are already planning on postseason styles, though it isn't set in stone.

"Last year we did mullets, which was my idea," McDonald said. "This year they want me to get a custom cut of their choice, which will not be happening. It'll be a team deal or not at all. I won't be getting whatever they want, and I will not be bleaching my hair for them. Absolutely zero chance."

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