NHS girls lacrosse team picking up momentum, earns some wins
With youth across the board and a handful of returners, the Newberg High School girls lacrosse team had a record of 7-4 heading into a matchup with Liberty earlier this week. The Tigers continually hover around the top 15 in state rankings and are exceeding expectations as they face Pacific Conference foes.
Newberg swept Sherwood for the first time ever this season. It kept close with Tualatin – one of the top teams in state – for much of its April 25 matchup before losing 17-11.
The development displayed by Newberg is a welcome sign for coach Terry Paskett. He said he is looking forward to the home stretch of the season.
"It's been pretty exciting," he said. "We're holding with the better teams and we're beating and learning a lot from the other teams we're playing. We can build some confidence and also work on some things."
The team's chemistry, Paskett said, is a big reason why the Tigers have newfound success despite a lack of varsity experience in a number of areas on the field.
"Our team is really starting to mesh and come together," he said. "We've got some returning players that have been leading the way and the freshmen coming in have come together as well."
Senior Gracie Anderson is among the more experienced players on the squad; she is a triple-threat with draw-control, scoring and assists. Freshman Alli Stilp continues to impress and is leading the team in goals, part of a group of freshmen that has played together since many of them were in elementary school.
The familiarity of that group is a major advantage for the Tigers.
"It really helps to have so many young players that have played together for almost four years," Paskett said. "They're only freshmen, so they're bound to get better and better. I'm excited to see what they do in the next couple years."
Prior to Monday's contest, the score of which has not been made official, Newberg had six games remaining on its schedule. The next one is Friday at Tualatin, which Paskett said should prove to be another test.
"The five other games shouldn't be any problem," Paskett said with a chuckle. "You never should say that, but we should beat those teams. We're slated at 16th in the state, which would be a home quarterfinal for us. All we'd have to do is win one game and we're in the semifinals."
Paskett said he believes this team has an opportunity to make a run and prove its mettle on the statewide level. They are in the lower of two divisions in high school lacrosse in Oregon, so the chance to make it far is there, he added.
Getting home field advantage for the quarterfinals would play a major role in that potential run. If Newberg finishes as strong as Paskett suggests they will, a home playoff game is in the cards come mid-May.
Of the 40-some teams in the state, Paskett believes his team is around the middle tier at this stage in the program's development. With a handful of winnable games to go, the Tigers hope to ascend closer to the top tier and earn themselves a chance to bring postseason lacrosse to the Chehalem Valley.
"There is a big difference in the state of Oregon between the top 10 teams, the middle 10 teams and the rest of them," Paskett said. "The top 10 teams are girls that play year-round together. A lot of them play club and travel around the country.
"Many of our girls don't play club, but this is a scrappy bunch."
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