By Jeremy McDonald
NEWBERG, Ore.– Down to their final few seconds in their season opener in regulation, the West Salem Lacrosse team were desperate for a goal. Hoping for one last crack at forcing overtime in what would end up being a 9-8 double-overtime victory Saturday afternoon against Newberg on the road.
The Tigers, all puns aside, roared to life in the second half. Turning a 7-3 deficit into an 8-7 lead with 6:02 left in the game against the young Titans squad that came up from Salem on this day. Many of which are freshman and sophomores.
But nonetheless, West stepped up to the challenge. The little things like passes, loose balls and playing sharper will come in practice, but the Titans buckled down when they needed to in crunch time.
They spent the next five-and-a-half minutes slowing down Newberg offensively, getting the ball and turning them into shot opportunities. Golden opportunity came with 39.4 seconds left with first-time Lacrosse player Aiden Dewitt delivered the great equalizer that would send the game into overtime a half-minute later.
“I just felt like I had to do it,” Dewitt said. “I just ripped it and hoped for the best, it gave us the overtime and game-winning goal in that overtime (period). It felt good. Most of us haven’t played a game in High School yet and for us to come out here and do our best, leaving it out on the field is amazing.
“All of us played amazing. We have a lot of work to do but, I think we’re going to do good this year.”
Both teams had their chances in the first four-minute overtime period, but neither team could land that sudden death netter despite coming close a few times.
Goalie JT Stilldoff regained his first quarter composure, even intercepting a pass and worked it down field during the first overtime period. Shutting down any and every chance they faced as a defensive unit.
The belief of ‘We’re winning this game’ rang true on the Titans sideline, several consistently repeating that line as they weren’t backing down and running away. Eventually striking gold by the 2:51 mark of the second overtime period.
Mason Murray hit the game-winner as West screamed onto the field after a grueling game in the 80-degree-plus weather Saturday. Murray admitted that he had closed his eyes, but the important thing for him and West Salem was that he made it.
“I don’t know, I just closed my eyes and shot. I’ll admit it, I closed my eyes and I shot,” smiled Murray, who had a three-goal hat trick. “We all wanted to be out here. We all wanted it really bad. I’d say this is a well-deserved dub. A lot of our guys are new, I think they handled it pretty well.”
Exhaustion was evident after the war they had. But they know it’s a quick turnaround with Corvallis on Tuesday followed by a Friday/Saturday twin-bill with Bend and Mountain View this next weekend. Their first home game won’t be until May 1 when they host McNary.
With as many short-sticks, offensive guys, and an aggressive approach with Titan-Grad Wyatt Livengood in charge, it’s a matter of crisping it up on their offense moving forward.
“More motivation because after every time they scored, I saw people put their heads down. We just need move motivation; we need to get the passes better and more on a line. Just quicker ball movement,” Murray said. “We got a lot more people with short-sticks (offense) so we just need to lock it down.”
Benjamin Zuk also had three goals for West Salem.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald