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After battling with OES Aardvarks, the Cougars were defeated 13-6 in second round

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby's Thomas Diggles drives to the net against OES.
If last year's first round playoff victory was an exception to the rule, then Canby's return to the second round of the boys' lacrosse state playoffs was, while still an achievement, was expected. The Cougars battled with two time defending state champion Oregon Episcopal School (OES) on Tuesday, May 21. It was unfortunately a similar ending for the upstart Canby squad, as they were outshot 13-6 en route to a defeat.

"We have dang good players but these guys have been playing with each other for 12 years, and it's little things," Canby coach Jake McDonald said. "They're confident, like the Golden State Warriors. They've been there and done that."

The game started off well for Canby. Connor Saltmarsh scored the first goal less than two minutes into game putting the underdog up one. OES didn't let that lead stand for long, getting the goal back at 9:30 of the first quarter.

Canby again took the lead with a goal at 2:22 of the first quarter thanks to Ronan Gay, and things were going well. Then, they weren't.

OES went on a 6-1 that spanned the entirety of the second quarter and early half of the third quarter as well. The Aardvarks were able to score from pretty much wherever they chose, often getting scores in quick succession. Canby's lone goal in that time was courtesy of Kaden Boyd. Canby's offense patiently circled the OES goal waiting for its time to strike, and Boyd's shot found the upper left corner of the net after he broke a defenders ankles.

The Cougars looked like they would mount a comeback at one point though. The team scored consecutive goals in the third quarter, courtesy of Jack Linman and Thomas Diggles, to close the deficit to 8-5.PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby junior Ronan Gay cuts toward the net against OES.

OES would have none of it though, putting together another run to close out the game. Canby's defeat was complete when the scoreboard read 13-6.

According to McDonald, the game came down to defensive execution. The Cougars defended well against a set offense, but when OES's offense was in transition was when the most damage was done.

"They had three or four rebounds, a couple in transition, nothing set," McDonald said. "They couldn't beat our defense in set besides when we started pressing out. We're a strong unit down there."

The Cougars end their season with a 10-9 record, and fourth in the Three Rivers League (TRL) behind Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Lakeridge. With its second straight season of securing a first round playoff victory, Canby is still looking to make that next step into the postseason.

"(There are) the elite teams and the good teams, we're very close to being an elite team," McDonald said. "We have to clean up the little things if we want to be celebrating tonight."

Part of that transformation process is putting together a more potent offensive output, according to McDonald. In the Cougars 19 games played this season, Canby only scored 10 goals or more in six of those contests, each of those being a Canby victory.

"We have to score more than 10 goals per game," McDonald said. "We've got to be in that 12-14 range, and we'll get there. I'm not worried about that. If we can put in more goals, we can win a lot more games. If you look at our scores, we're winning 8-6, 8-3, sometimes we reach 10 or double digits, but it's usually stellar defense. We don't give ourselves a lot of room for error. Goals are the main focus for next year, we have to put the ball in the back of the net."

While the seasons end was bitter for the team and coaching staff, McDonald is confident that the team that returns will be strong. Part of that is the youth that got big minutes in the 2019 campaign, part of that is the experience they gained from the graduating senior class.

"I'm super excited for next year," McDonald said. "It's going to hurt a lot losing the seniors, but next year these guys…we've had sophomores and juniors playing varsity, they've logged big minutes. They should be excited for next year. They're going to be the older class beating up on kids. We're competing with West Linn, Lakeridge, and Lake Oswego…We're battling."

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