Tigers' post-season run ends in semis
CLACKAMAS -- Although it was much sharper to begin the game than it was in its quarterfinal win over West Albany the week before, the Newberg boys lacrosse team still found itself trailing Clackamas 5-1 at halftime of the Cascade Cup semifinals early last week.
The No. 3-seeded Tigers did manage to claw their way back into the game, though, scoring back-to-back goals midway through the third quarter to make it a one-goal game at 6-5.
Even though the No. 2 Cavaliers committed eight second-half penalties, Newberg was unable to pull level, as Clackamas survived another strong push from the Tigers in the fourth quarter to escape with an 8-6 home victory May 31.
"We played well. There are no regrets on that," NHS coach Brian Wood said. "You never want to lose, but if you do, you want to lose going full force and that's what our guys did. We didn't sit back and take it. We took it to them for a whole game."
The Cavaliers, who played in the state championship bracket a year ago and went on to beat top-seeded Westview 13-7 Friday to win the Cascade Cup, were simply the better team in the first half. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening quarter before Austin Kosmicki got Newberg on the board with 3:56 remaining in the period.
Clackamas answered with three consecutive goals, including a fast-break score by Keegan McGlathery with 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter to make it 3-1. Lefty attack Chandler Berks proved to be the Cavaliers' top threat in the game, scoring his second and third goals of the contest in the opening two minutes of the second quarter to make it 5-1.
Newberg settled in after that and eventually got a man-advantage goal from Tyler Schrage late in the second quarter to make it 5-2 at the break.
"I think we realized we needed to kick it into gear," senior attack Zak Hensley said.
Mounting a comeback against the Cavaliers proved to be a much stiffer challenge than it had been against the No. 11 Bulldogs in the quarterfinals, but Dawson Walls scored just under two minutes into the third to give the Tigers some momentum.
Kaden Couch answered for Clackamas just over a minute later, but senior midfielder Avian Mendoza responded with a beautiful left-handed goal, beating keeper Bronson Cale low to make it 6-4 with 8:06 to play in the third.
"I think we just decided that we weren't going to give up," senior goalie Dalton Paskett said. "We started taking it to them and just kept building. They slowed down and we only sped up as the game went on."
The Cavaliers struggled mightily with penalties in the second half, even going three men down at one point, which allowed Schrage to make it 6-5 with 5:16 remaining in the quarter. But Clackamas got a huge tally from Berks, his fourth of the game, to get back up by two goals and stem the tide just 15 seconds prior to the start of the fourth quarter.
Newberg had several more extra-man opportunities (EMOs) early in the fourth, but it was the Cavaliers that struck first in the final quarter when Justin Wooley made it 8-5 with 5:43 left in the game.
That came shortly after Zak Hensley had a spectacular goal, which saw him get pushed in the back before launching himself from behind the cage and beating Cole while in mid-air, called off for stepping in the crease. The Tigers did get an EMO out of it, but failed to score.
Hensley did eventually cash in after causing a turnover and beating Cole with a nifty underhanded shot a few minutes later that made it 8-6 with 3:33 to play.
Clackamas midfielder Zach Melchior dominated face-offs all night, winning 14 of 17, but Newberg got control of the ensuing restart only to turn the ball over with a missed pass that rolled out of bounds.
The Tigers (10-11) still had a chance after regaining possession with 1:37 to play, but Cole came up with a big save and Clackamas (9-13) killed off one final penalty over the final 39 seconds to see out the victory and end Newberg's season.
"We were attacking the cage and forcing them on their heels, forcing them into penalties," Wood said. "If we're going to go out, we're going to go out with them on their heels. We put the pressure on and pushed to the end."
It was the final game for eight Tiger seniors, including defensemen Brett Brammer, Collin Oathes and Tristan Osborn, and Paskett, who stiffened up on defense to give Newberg time to mount its comeback.
"Those guys led our team further in the postseason than we've ever been before with a solid record against tough teams this year," Wood said of the seniors. "They never once gave up. They bounced back from Brett's ankle injury, Schrage's broken wrist, Collin's broken foot. We had a lot of injuries, but also perseverance. That's what you're looking for in a team."