By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– The face-off is probably one of the most important component of the sport of Lacrosse. It starts the play and gives you the upperhand on the other team.
For Zach Gwyn, who saw a lot of action in the trenches of the face-off and slowly the Sprague Lacrosse team began to use his 20 face-off wins entering the second half down 6-4 to Thurston as the Olympians began to find the back of the next starting with goals by Gywn and Jaymin Colvin to keep up with the Colts with the score at 7-6.
“Face-offs usually win the game,” starts Gwyn who lost only five face-offs Tuesday as the junior finished with two goals and five assist. “It’s just possession and the most important thing in Lacrosse and we were down by three-goals and then we went on a run through face-offs.
“And that’s one of the things that’s unique about Lacrosse is that you can win the face-offs and then comeback like nothing.”
And it seemed almost easy as Gwyn’s face-off wins then led into goals as Jack Sobey tied and then gave Sprague their first lead of the game at 8-7 with under six minutes to go in the third quarter. By quarters end, the Olys struck gold with goals seven times in the period to build a 11-8 lead entering the fourth and final quarter of the game after being down 3-0 early in the first quarter versus Thurston.
“I think first half it was first-game jitters honestly, we had just a lot of dropped balls,” said Gwyn. “We had a lot of running the crease, easy goals and we dropped them so I felt like we were nervous. But in the second half we came, we just dominated the second half and just really played our game.”
Their game was aggressive, pressuring the Colts into making them play their game as Sprague built a 14-9 lead after Gwyn’s second goal and just his second-year playing goalie, Gavin Kelly settled in with protecting the net during the second half.
“It was rough but my coaches helped me keep it together. My teammates have my back and if I let a goal in, they’re there for me,” said Kelly as the junior finished with 13 saves in the game.
But, Thurston made things interesting late as they turned the 14-9 score into a 14-12 game with 2:11 left in the game as the Olympians laid off the gas a bit, but it’s a learning experience with it being the first game of the season.
“It’s a huge learning experience because we were man-down for most of the game, and the fourth quarter when they were scoring, we just had to overcome it. A lot of points they scored,” said Kelly.
Sprague’s defense came back around with the clock ticking down and the Colts still trying to corral around for two more quick scores to force overtime or to steal certain win from the Olys before time was up.
Their shots were stopped, including a save with 20 seconds remaining in the game by Kelly that proved to be the icing on the cake of their first win of the 2018 season.
That second half showed the squad where they are at in terms in their preparation from practice entering their home opener against Marist Thursday night at 8pm, but the game too showed them how they can improve entering that game as well.
“I owe that second half to how hard we work in practice and that right there motivates us to work harder in practice. So tomorrow I hope we have a good practice and I feel like Marist and Thurston are very comparable teams, they’re both Eugene and both are traditionally decent teams,” said Gwyn.
“Probably just work on clears, ground balls, passing,” adds Kelly on how they can improve moving into Wednesday’s practice.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald