By Jeremy McDonald
MONMOUTH, Ore.– The University of Montana Lacrosse team took their 16-5 loss to Oregon State University to heart as they entered Sunday afternoon’s game with Western Oregon University, making the adjustments and bringing the aggression in their 18-12 victory. Spoiling the home and season opener for the Wolves as they overcame a slow start that saw the young Western Oregon build a brief 3-1 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter.
It was a three-goal tear for the Wolves, seeing Riley Renner, and the West Salem-grads and brothers Wyatt and Jack Livengood help spark the run before the Grizzlies pulled ahead with a four-goal tear themselves. Wyatt Livengood scored the second of his four goals to turn the 5-3 deficit to 5-4, but that would be the closest Western Oregon University would get for the remainder of the game Sunday as Montana slowly began to pull away.
The Grizzlies led 10-5 at halftime and sustained their lead around that five-goal margin for much of the second half. It was more of knocking off the rust-points Titans-grad Eric Frazer, freshman with the Montana team, as Sherwood’s Brody Stevens led the offensive rust. Stevens had a game-high four goals, matching Wyatt Livengood’s output.
“This is our second game, but we’ve had four practices in which we could have live scrimmages because of the weather. Yesterday we played Oregon State, we found some things that we need to work on and today was kind of a building day,” Frazer said. “When we started out, we realized that wasn’t the tempo that we wanted and after that we kind of picked small things to work on throughout the game. After that, we started to take more of a lead.
“I think it’s a lot more practicing and warm on our team chemistry. There’s a lot of new kids that we got this Spring season. So just experience and repetition is going to help a lot.”
The Grizzlies brought the physicality and aggression on the Wolves, who only have two seniors on their team this year to lead the relatively freshman and sophomore-heavy team. But Western Oregon stayed with it and had gotten it to a four-goal deficit early in the fourth quarter with the possibility of a run to tie the match in reach.\
It never came however as every time they hit a second half goal, the University of Montana team answered with a goal of their own as they officially kick off their 2022 Spring season on the warm February afternoon at Monmouth.
“I was honestly surprised because of how young our team is. i think we only have two seniors and the rest are sophomores and freshman, so to come out and compete like that is awesome for us to have that many lower classmen come out and take that physicality, take those reps and do their part for the team was nice to see,” Wyatt Livengood, a senior, said. “It taught us that we need to play as a team more and not as individuals. We need to do better as a team, work as a team better and honestly get better. More conditioning will help, we don’t have the numbers as everyone does, so conditioning is going to help us this season a lot.”
Renner , Nico Vilasener, Chris Skelten and Jack Livengood all had two goals each in the defeat for the Wolves. Peter Curran and Trent Tubbs each had three goals in the victory for the Grizzlies, who play at Pacific Lutheran Friday and Washington Saturday.
Western Oregon plays at Oregon State February 12 against the Beavers before playing Nevada February 20 at the University of Oregon.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald