By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–At about Six and a half minutes into the game, it’ll look like Sprague would be running away with the North Valley League game versus West Salem in Olympic Stadium.
By the 5:37 mark of the first quarter, the Olympians led the Titans 4-0 and looked to be in full control of the game.
That was, until senior John Holmes played an important role in slowing Sprague down to help find some spark for his offense.
“Like I said, all the guys every game I play for them, all my brothers,” said Holmes. “Every, single one of them, even the JV kids. But when we’re down, it’s anything goes. Body limbs, wheither it’s heads or hands, we got to get everything we can.”
And they did, starting on defense.
Holmes and his defensive front shut down the Olys for the reminder of the first quarter and for the entirety of the second quarter behind six Holmes saves as their offense was slowly coming to life with six second quarter shots and holding most of the possessions in the quarter as they were slowly building some confidence entering the second half.
The confidence on both sides of the ball continued to build and then the pay-off, and boy was it worth it.
With a 1:07 left in the third quarter, Little Man Garrett Davis broke the shutout with a sneaky little goal past the Olympian stout defense.
But they weren’t done yet as squeezed one more goal before quarter’s end as you could tell that the Green Machine was just hitting their stride when they needed to.
Wyatt Livengood, Davis then Livengood again that gave West the 5-4 lead with 4:35 left and left no doubt that they can rally back from any deficit as Sprague tries to stop the churning of the Green Machine.
“Oh it was great, we picked it up in the second half, it was a team-effort, we all wanted it together and I could’ve done it without my teammates,” said Livengood.
The Olys did, tying it up seconds later as both teams swiped, hit and were physical with another as Sprague brought some pressure but missed the tiebreaker with the time approaching a minute to go.
Regaining possession in a scuffle, West calls time with 57.2 seconds to go. Cheering as they approached the bench, there was a sense they could do out-do their rival.
Coming out of the timeout, they set up the play, passed it around and eventually Livengood found himself with the ball and unleashed the game-winning shot with 44.6 seconds left.
“It was a nail bitter, then I don’t know, I went off the pick and my guys feed me the ball and I’ll score until the last goal for them,” said the Junior
But man, let’s admit it, it was nerve-racking regardless which sideline you were on. Head Coach Sean Litrakis and his crew had all the confidence in the world they’ll be able to hold off the Olympians one last time.
But there were nerves though in the closing seconds as Sprague brought the heat and it wasn’t until Holmes saw the ball rolling away when he looked up at the clock and saw the last few seconds wind off the clock.
“The last couple of seconds made me worried just because they had it at X and that’s a lot of advantage time for players,” said Holmes. “But when Simon Smith got the stick, like his stick on the ball, deflecting the pass and had it rolling, I looked up at the time and saw it was down, it was over and I was just excited. I felt like it was Canby all over again.”
“It was one heck of a game, and we pulled it off until the last second and we play for each other, that’s what we do,” adds Livengood on the win.
As West met as a team post game, yeah they have Summit on Saturday at 2pm, but for right now, in this moment of time, it’s time to celebrate the fact they snapped a two-game, two-year losing streak of losing at Olympic Stadium.
And their coach couldn’t be more prouder.
“It’s never over,” smiled Litrakis. “It’s never over for us. That’s one thing I’ll tell you, we’ll fight until the end and I’m proud of my boys. A little back-story, this team here at West hasn’t won here in two seasons and the seniors here didn’t want to leave this field here without a ‘W’, so it was real important.
“To be honest with you, we came out flat, they’re fighters, they won’t give up, they came back and rally and you saw the result. They’re a great bunch of guys, they’re hard workers and more heart than anyone I’ve ever coached so I’m super proud of them.”
One thing is for certain, as it does for much of the seniors on this squad, winning at Olympic Stadium will be special as the team moves forward with the season ahead.
“The only time I’ve win here was starting JV, now to do it starting varsity, it feels really great,” said Holmes. “And just having that satisfaction to walk off this field for the last time knowing that we have the win, it feels great.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald