Back to back wins push NHS into playoffs
Having its schedule front-loaded with the best teams in the Northwest Conference, the Newberg boys lacrosse team needed a strong finish in order to qualify for this weekend's league tournament.
The Tigers proved to be up to the challenge, overcoming an early 3-0 deficit to down Wilsonville 15-6 on May 3 and wrap up fourth place and the final spot in the league playoffs.
"In the first quarter, we just threw the ball away and that's on us," NHS coach Brian Wood said. "We cleaned it up and started playing to our potential."
Newberg dominated possession in the second quarter, scoring six consecutive goals and holding the Wildcats scoreless just under 12 minutes to take a 6-4 lead into halftime.
The Tigers scored the first four goals of the third quarter and never looked back, with Zak Hensley leading the way with four tallies on the night.
Newberg followed that up with a 14-2 home win over last-place La Salle on Monday night to secure sole possession of fourth place.
The offense got on track much quicker this time around, as the Tigers led 6-0 early in the second quarter.
"We had a lot of opportunities to work on different looks," Wood said. "La Salle came out early running a zone, which we haven't really seen much this year, so it gave our guys a chance to analyze and break it down and find success."
Goalie Dalton Paskett even got in on the action. After recording a shutout through three quarters, the senior moved to attack for the final period, scoring the first goal of his career.
The Tigers will wrap up the regular season with a non-conference road game at Aloha at 8 p.m. Wednesday before traveling to face regular-season league champion Tualatin Friday evening.
With a win, Newberg would secure an automatic bid to the 24-team state championship tournament. Currently ranked No. 21, the Tigers will be on the bubble to qualify as an at-large team if they should come up short.
"(Tualatin is) No. 10 in the state right now and they're looking good, but as we start to get guys back from injury, I think we can start to put the pieces together and peak at the right time going into the postseason," Wood said. "I think we can give them a good run for their money. I'm excited for it."