Core of NHS boys lacrosse finds groove ahead of league play
The Newberg boys' lacrosse team have staked its claim as one of the best teams in the state through nine games. The Tigers ride a seven-game winning streak into the Northwest Conference portion of their schedule, most recently downing Century 13-3 on April 19.
What is perhaps more impressive is the way Newberg has been winning its games: apart from a 12-8 victory over Hillsboro on April 1, all of Newberg's victories have been by 10 goals or more. Part of that offensive firepower, according to coach Brian Wood, comes from a group of juniors who know how to play well off of the ball.
"We have some kids that just fundamentally are really fun, strong shooters that do a good job of getting a stick free and we complement that with some kids that do a great job of moving off ball," Wood said. "One of the things that we talk a lot about to our team is we're going to win a game or we're going to lose the game together. What are six players doing on offense if one guy has the ball at a given time? Five guys have to be working off the ball and we have some good firepower, some outside shooters that can stretch a defense and then when we're clicking, it's because we have people creating offense and then people playing off that offense and moving off ball cuts."
Part of that scoring offense comes from a team that has a core of players who have been playing together since the second and third grade. The junior class of Newberg's boys' lacrosse team has spent many years developing a style that complements one another under the tutelage of assistant coach Gerod Rayburn. Now on the varsity team under Wood, the team is excelling.
The lone blemish thus far against Newberg is a 12-6 defeat at the hands of Oregon Episcopal School (OES) on March 30. It was a teachable moment against a solid program, Wood said.
"As we continue to grow as a team, we have to be able to close out those tough games and believe in our team and our commitment to one another to play together and continue to push ourselves against these teams that have historically beat us or been a state winning champion-type of team," Wood added. "So, we dug ourselves some holes and kind of slipped a little bit there, but I think we've found a new identity and we have some leadership that's developing that, you know, I'd love to get another chance at OES."
With Ryan Simmons leading the way at the attack, Hank Vandebrake keeping the team connected in the midfield, and Conor Wood in the cage, the team is getting valuable minutes from another excellent Newberg program: the wrestling squad. With wrestlers Trae Frederick, Hayden Hampton, Jacob Brammer and Conor Wood, coach Wood wants more to make the leap to the lacrosse field.
After playing Wilsonville on April 22, the Tigers turned around and faced Tigard (0-3) on April 26.
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