By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– West Salem remembers the last time when they came to Olympic Stadium on April 20, they didn’t forget that 15-14 overtime when they came back to Sprague High School Tuesday night for the North Valley League Title on the line.
For the Olympians, they wanted to break the Titans five-year stranglehold on the League and the top spot as they rolled into the Title Game on a eight-game winning streak and were 6-0 in NVL-play this season.
When the game began however, West Salem exploded with their frustrations and caught Sprague off-guard by building a 8-2 lead midway through the third quarter.
“It made it 10 times better, we had the hatred, we had everything going and it was great. It was awesome,” described the Titans Wyatt Livengood on carrying that anger from April 20 to Tuesday night and had the look as if they had their rival on the ropes for the out.
But, Sprague has proved that they won’t take defeat easily as they throughout the season with constant second half performances and Tuesday was no different.
Jack Sobey scored the Olys second goal of the game with 4:28 to go in the third, Logan Smith added another to cut it to 8-3. Jeremy Buyserie got it to 8-4 early in the fourth quarter before Zac Gwyn made it 8-5 with 9:52 remaining in the game with momentum seemingly up in the air now that Sprague scored four straight goals in a matter of seven-or-so minutes.
It was playoff-like as both teams were on their way to the State Tournament this weekend, and a good test of what is to come.
“We started playing well in the second half, so hopefully we can take the second half and just go from the start and we should start with that intensity and confidence in our game,” said Gwyn.
“Way more intense, way more on the line I feel like,” adds the Titans Garrett Davis on the game at hand for what is coming up on Friday. “We’re going to come in confident hopefully, we moved the ball well today so hopefully we don’t make mental mistakes then.”
The defense that West Salem prides themselves on were meeting the aggressive offensive play of Sprague head-on and prohibted the Olympians from striking away as Davis added the Titans ninth goal of the game. Sprague kept pushing tempo and pushing up field, but could only muster a Sobey goal in the final 1:34 as time expired on the game with the scoreboard reading:
West Salem 9, Sprague 6. The Titans brought home the long wooden lacrosse board for another year.
“I’ve been Varsity for four-years and this is the most excited I’ve ever been for a conference championship,” said Livengood. “This is awesome, with all my brothers on both sides of me, best feeling ever.”
“It’s incredible, good feeling for everyone. We won for the seniors, last conference game and we came out on top for them,” adds Davis on the win.
For the Olys, who suffered their first loss at home this season, they looked over and saw West Salem cheering and the pain on their faces and the silence on their side was eerie as they’ll find out their playoff opponent in the coming days. Head Coach Efrain Guzman was just as upset as his players were about the defeat as they now they prepare for the postseason ahead.
“It’s just really up to the kids, it’s really up to how they want to respond to it when it comes down to it. I mean it’s their first loss at home and if they take that fire and take it to the playoffs and take the frustration and pain and figure out during that, that’s fine. (West) wanted it, and they wanted it bad and they pulled it out is what it is,” said Guzman.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald