Liberty drops playoff game to Lake Oswego, 18-6
A successful season ended on a sour note for the Liberty boys lacrosse team, as the Falcons fell 18-6 to No. 4-ranked Lake Oswego in a Oregon High School Lacrosse Association second round playoff game Tuesday night, May 21, at Lake Oswego High School.
The Lakers used a fast and furious attack to jump on Liberty early, getting six goals in the game's first five minutes, taking a 13-2 lead to the halftime break, then cruising to victory with a group of backups over the game's final quarter.
"Their individual skill and the speed at which they are able to move the ball is awfully tough to defend," Liberty head coach Paul Lardy said following the game.
On paper, the Lakers were supposed to win the game, but Lake Oswego head coach Rick Gruen said he and a number of his guys learned firsthand a couple years ago what can happen if you take a team for granted, and that wasn't going to happen to this team, on this night.
"We learned two years ago after losing in the second round to Central Catholic, that you can't take things for granted and we didn't take this game for granted," the coach said. "Liberty had nothing to lose and we knew they'd come out firing. They knocked off Glencoe and Paul always has them ready to go."
Actually, both teams came out firing. The Lakers got on the board first when junior Marshall McGuire netted the game's first shot less than a minute in. Liberty responded almost exactly a minute later when senior Isaac Tsolak tied the game on a wrap-around with 10:09 left in the first quarter. Unfortunately however for the Falcons, that'd be the last of their scoring for quite some time, while the Lakers were just getting started.
Standout senior Jonas Hunter scored four straight goals over the next two-and-a-half minutes, and when the University of Vermont bound attacker scored again on a rebound to end the first quarter, the Lakers led 9-1 and the game was for the most part over.
Hunter ended with eight goals and was aided by Ryan DeRaeve's three goals, along with two apiece by McGuire and junior midfielder Charlie Ryan. Gruen lauded Hunter's play and noted the importance of both he and McGuire's contribution to the team.
"Those two are the heart and soul of our team," the coach said. "Jonas is our grinder. He comes out and works hard, and we kind of go how Jonas and Marshall go."
Despite trailing 13-2 at the half and 16-2 midway through the third quarter, Liberty didn't go away in the second half, getting four goals from seniors Ethan Moody and Lucas Maki, junior Owen Engbretson, and another from Tsolak to end the game, showing the fight Coach Lardy has come to expect from this year's team that's seen its share of adversity.
"Our guys have been willing to compete throughout the year," Lardy said. "We have had times we were down and needed to battle back, and had several games decided by a goal. Those games teach your players to keep playing."
The Liberty loss comes on the heels of last week's unlikely first round win over a Glencoe team they'd lost to handily a week prior. Lardy added that it was that type of effort that not only earned that win, but also kept them fighting against a Lakers team that was undoubtedly the better, more skilled team on the field.
"Coming back and winning the second Glencoe game is a lesson in why you play games," Lardy said. "After the first game you would think we had no chance, but several seniors stepped up in that game and made the difference."
With the win, Lake Oswego advances to play Jesuit in the state quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m. this Friday, May 24, at Lake Oswego High, and Gruen knows they'll have their hands full.
"We lost to them in overtime early in the year, so it'll be a battle and it's two pretty good teams," said the coach. "It's never easy."
Meanwhile, Lardy said goodbye to a group of seniors that he credits for helping to build the foundation of a winning culture he hopes will continue.
"I have coached most of our seniors since the seventh grade," he said. "They have been able to keep our program competitive and it will be hard to let those players go."