Century lacrosse moving forward
Lacrosse remains a relatively new sport in Oregon.
Century head coach Rob Beard knows that, and he understands that to get his program where he ultimately wants it to go, he needs to build it from the ground up.
"This is my fifth year, and we're really trying to get into the junior high and youth programs to build our numbers," Beard said. "Because of that, we're definitely seeing kids come in with more experience, and they're able to come into high school and contribute right away."
The Jaguars are 1-4 in their five games to start the year, but they are coming off of an impressive 16-6 win over Forest Grove Thursday, April 29. Beard said that why the record may not reflect it, he's seeing strides even in defeat, and is proud of what his young team — which consists of 17 freshmen and sophomores at both the varsity and junior varsity level — is bringing to the field game in and game out.
"We've been competitive in all four of our games (prior to Forest Grove)," Beard said. "We've got 12 freshmen on our total roster and a handful of freshmen and sophomores in the rotation, so we're trying to build that cohesiveness and I think we're doing a good job."
In addition to some of the younger kids like Zach Kirigiti, Carson Bell and Ashton Seggerman, who Beard spoke volumes about, the Jags are led by upperclassmen, junior Brady Davis, junior goalie Braxton Mollen, and long-stick midfielder Jesse Upchurch, who brings league accolades to this year's Century team.
"Jesse was a first-team all-leaguer his sophomore year," Beard said, "and unfortunately missed last year before this year's senior run."
While Beard said his team is slowly making strides, he added that the sport in the state of Oregon is as well. In terms of percentage growth, lacrosse has been the fastest-growing team sport in the nation at the high school level for at least the last two decades.
The coach knows how important it is that he and the Century youth and high school teams keep up when it comes to upgrading skills, and overall play.
"I've seen the skill level in Oregon grow and grow as the youth programs continue to expand," Beard said. "That's why it's important that we go forward, even without the parks."
Beard said that Hillsboro Parks and Recreation chose not to offer lacrosse this year, so it's incumbent upon coaches like Beard to offer it through their individual youth programs to keep kids involved.
That's been made more difficult over the past year amidst the pandemic, but the coach said the Jaguars have been steadfast with their protocols in an effort to maintain the type of safe environment kids and parents can feel comfortable with.
"We run the kids through a series of check-ins upon arrival," Beard said. "We check for temperatures, ask questions about symptoms, and we maintain those lists for schools that come in and play us, that way there's contact-tracing in place."
While games are limited this season, Beard said his goals for this year's team remain the same. The top three teams in each league will make the Portland-area playoffs, so with three games remaining against Liberty, Hillsboro and Newberg, Century's goal is simple.
"We want to finish the league in the top three, get in the playoffs and hopefully get a playoff win," Beard said. "Just like the last two years."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.