By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Sprague Lacrosse let the golden opportunity slip away from them at the end of the regular season last year.
They had the defending North Valley League Champion, West Salem, on the ropes by making the Titans roll into Olympic Stadium and defeat the Olympians for their sixth-straight league championship.
West Salem did just that, defeating Sprague 9-6 that left an sour taste in the Olys mouth entering 2019.
With a strong Senior class this season, Sprague are looking to use that game as a motivational tool entering their season-opener at Oregon City Monday night.
“It was a learning situation, I wouldn’t call it bittersweet. You win games, you lose games. The way you win is how you persevere the next game or the next season,” said Sprague Head Coach Efrain Guzman. “In real life you’re going to win and you’re going to lose. For these guys I think they have a hunger, especially the Seniors coming in.
“Coming in second the past three-years, not a fun situation.”
Though West Salem will be low in numbers, the bulls-eye is still on their backs with Sprague right there, McNary and a sneaky good West Albany team in the wings ready to go this season. It’s certain that the Titans won’t go down without a fight.
To get it done this year though, Sprague will be looking to Zach Gwyn, Logan Smith who’s making the move up to attack with the graduation of Jaymin Colvin. Gavin Kelly is coming back healthy after suffering a broken thumb early in the season that saw Caleb Cooper step in goal for the reminder of the season.
But Guzman is also excited about the younger kids that are coming up this year that will represent the Olys program for the years to come after these Seniors graduate this year. However, the pressure is just going to be perceived by the kids on the field when it’s game-time.
“You’ll be surprised by our young guys that are coming up,” said Guzman. “It’s going to be huge. I think we’re graduating 13 Seniors, but we have a really young group and it’ll be our own fault if we don’t win this year.
“Pressure is what you make it. If we go out there and have fun, they’ll have no pressure at all. These are a bunch of goofy kids that love to mess around and have fun. Lacrosse is ‘lax’. Relax and get out there and have some fun and all these kids really enjoy the game, there’s a lot of knowledgeable kids on this team.”
Sprague opens the first week of the season against Oregon City on the road Monday before hosting Roseburg Tuesday.