By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The first-ever Lacrosse Playoff Game at West Salem High School didn’t disappoint as the 16th-seed West Salem Titans and the 17th-seed Southridge Skyhawks.
Both teams went back-and-forth and lived up to the evenly matched match-up as it seemed to be for both teams with the score tied at seven apiece as the physicality of Southridge and what Portland Lacrosse looked like down in Salem was matched by a Titans squad looking for that first-playoff win in program history after another fantastic season in the North Valley League.
But, a few hiccups in a two-minute span dug West into a 9-7 hole with the game looking like it was all but over.
However, not for this squad. They’ve fought back so many times this year, a 4-0 deficit to Sprague to beat the Olympians at their place by a Wyatt Livengood goal to win it in the final minute and Dez Schadt’s five-goal game against that same Sprague team a few weeks later to name a few.
So, they picked themselves up from the mat, put on the boxing gloves one last time and kept fighting.
Eventually the payday, a Garrett Davis goal with 29 seconds left to bring it to within one.
“Incredible, for everyone, all the seniors played great,” said Davis. “Incredbilbe performance by us.”
Onto the face-off with Andy Moreno, and after a hard fought battle for the ball, the ‘Hawks won the battle and tried to milk the win.
That was before a hit jarred the ball loose and the Titans regained possession and hummed it to Denver Bogut when timeout was called with 12 seconds left in the ball game and West was breathing down the necks down versus the 12-7 Southridge squad.
Coming out of the timeout, the Titans rotate the ball around and took a shot with five seconds left.
No good as it went out of bounds with three seconds left with the ball in favor of West Salem.
Davis inbounds it quickly with a pass and the Titans released one final shot at the buzzer that just misses it’s mark for overtime.
The hurt, the pain, the tears on the faces on West Salem’s faces were that of all that hard work and sacrifice they put in throughout the whole season not wanting to end like this, here, at home.
For the Seniors like Schadt, the hard-work and leadership they’ve left behind for people like Davis and Livengood outweighs today though those same underclassmen wanted to get those seniors that one playoff win.
“It shows how important leadership is,” said Schadt. “In the past there’s been glimpses of it , there’s been people who’ve kind of get frustrated with their team and decide they need to say something,” “But what is important here is we’ve supported each other, we’ve called each other out for our mistakes but then we got behind them afterwards.
“Wev’e just were together.”
Going off of that, Schadt was proud with how his team, even in defeat, answered the bell Friday night and on numerous other occasions this season for each other.
“I’m pretty good with words but words cannot express how proud I am of these guys,” said Schadt. “It was just a sense of brotherhood that we never had before this program. Everyone had their opportunities, everyone took their opportunities and everyone just ran with it.
“And I’ve never experienced that in any other sport I’ve played before in my life.”
For those underclassmen, though the pain of defeat for their senior brothers is there; they’ll remember those lessons taught by Justin Morales, by John Holmes, Bogut and Schadt to name a few of the seniors on this years squad as they carry their legacy to 2018.
“Work hard every day, never quit,” said a tearful Davis.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald