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Boys lacrosse: Canby takes the Cascade Cup title

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The Cougars win overtime game over Clackamas in semifinals and easily defeat South Eugene in title game


HERALD PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Canby High boys lacrosse players Nathan Pietrok (left) and Tayvn Jorgensen celebrate one of the Cougars' 19 goals during their victory over South Eugene in the Cascade Cup championship game Saturday, June 4.

Gatorade showered head lacrosse coach Patrick Verdun minutes before the Canby boys lacrosse team hoisted the Cascade Cup trophy, providing an ephemeral reprieve from the sweltering near triple-digit temperature.

For Verdun, the sentiment behind the ice-cold sensation eclipsed the feeling itself.

“It was awesome, more the meaning behind it than the actual dousing,” he said.

After a heroic overtime victory over Clackamas in the semifinals, the No. 3 Cougars outmanned and outclassed No. 5 seeded South Eugene, defeating the Axemen 19-7 to capture the Cascade Cup title.

The Cougars lost in the Cascade Cup semifinals in 2014 and 2015 before breaking through this year.

“We’ve almost got here two years in a row so this is a good feeling,” team captain Nate McDonald said. “We finally got out here and won it.”

Heading into the game, Canby hadn’t played amid scorching heat all season but held one major trump card against the Axemen – depth.

While South Eugene had just four bench players available Canby held more than enough players to fill two starting lineups.

“They are a good team, very athletic. They just don’t have a lot of bodies. We knew if we kept them running, working in the heat, we could overpower them,” Verdun said.

South Eugene scored the first goal of the game with 6:34 left in the first quarter while Canby misfired on copious long-range shots in the first six minutes of the game.

Meanwhile, Canby goalie Austin Keller saved a few Axemen attempts to keep the game close while the offense stalled.

“Keller’s done a fantastic job all year. He’s focused up. A lot of us came out slow and he came out ready to go,” McDonald said.

To ignite the offense, Verdun emphasized ball and player movement during a timeout.

The Cougars followed suit the rest of the game and created easier shots while forcing South Eugene to exert more energy.

The tide turned so swiftly that the Cougars had effectively ended the game by halftime.

Nathan Pietrok buried the Cougars first goal while enduring a shot to the shoulder while Justin Morris and Tyler Stand added goals late in the first quarter to give Canby a 3-1 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Then, Zach Pilorget scored a hat-trick in the second quarter, Tayvn Jorgensen scored twice, Morris scored again and McDonald scored his first goal of the game.

Canby led 10-4 at halftime.

The Cougars rotated players in and out frequently so they could match up energized units against an increasingly exhausted South Eugene squad.

“I think we did a great job of rotating players so no one was truly gassed,” Morris said.

Pilorget and Jorgensen scored two more goals each in the second half while McDonald, Aaron Kromer, Zach Bailey, Morris and Jacob Huggins also scored after halftime.

As a midfielder, Morris often passes to attackers down field but found more open space for deep shots than normal against South Eugene.

HERALD PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN -  Jacob Huggins fights for the ball alongside a South Eugene player.

“Usually I look to pass first but I thought their slides were kind of slow so it left us open to shoot,” he said.

Canby’s defense allowed just four goals in the first three quarters and contained South Eugene’s isolation oriented offense while Austin Parcher and Jake Lowry dominated face-offs and helped Canby hold possession much longer than the Axemen.

“Parcher was unbelievable on face-offs today,” Verdun said.

McDonald hoped the resounding win would send a message to the Oregon High School Lacrosse Association that Canby is good enough to play in the championship bracket but its tough Three Rivers League schedule hinders its LaxPower ranking.

“Teams in the Three Rivers League, we’re playing tough opponents and I feel like we should get an opportunity to play in the playoffs,” he said.

Regardless, the Cougars showed mettle in its semifinals win over Clackamas and raw talent in its three double digit victories in the playoffs.

While most seniors end their careers with crushing playoff losses or meaningless regular season victories, Canby seniors Nathanial Johnson, Alek Purtzer, Wyatt Brawner, Pietrock and Strand walked away with a title.

“We couldn’t ask for a better way to go out for the seniors,” Verdun said.

Once the Cougars received their Cascade Cup trophy, each player touched the cup while some kissed it.

The gestures could be viewed as a symbol of the collective effort put forth to capture the program’s first-ever Cascade Cup title.

“These guys are great kids. They work hard every day. They believe in each other. We just had good team work and team chemistry,” McDonald said.

HERALD PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Canby's Alek Purtzer jumps onto Garrett Netter after the Cougars defeated South Eugene in the Cascade Cup title game.

Canby’s heroic comeback

As Brandon Tietz scooped up the loose ball and waltzed to open grass during the overtime period of Canby’s Cascade Cup semifinals game against No. 2 seeded Clackamas, Cougar bench players jumped up and down in elation and maybe even exhalation.

Despite trailing for most of the first three quarter of the game, snatching the lead only to relinquish it again and nearly giving up two game-winning goals in overtime, in that moment, the Cougars had at least one crack at a game-winner.

And that’s all they needed.

Jorgensen buried a game-winning goal to seal a 14-13 overtime victory Wednesday, June 1 and earn the Cougars first trip to the Cascade Cup finals.

Jorgensen not only nailed the decisive goal but also assisted McDonald on the other most important play of the game.

Jorgensen readied for his attack behind the goal with under 1:40 remaining in regulation and Cougars trailing 13-12.

Then, he broke right and nestled next to the right goal post. Meanwhile, McDonald cut from the periphery to the middle, received a pass from Jorgensen and scored to tie the game.

“We have played together seven, eight years now. He knows where I’m going and vice versa. That chemistry is there and I knew where to find him,” Jorgensen said.

To set up the game-winner, the Cougars utilized the same formation. But this time, Jorgensen hoisted his stick high above his head and lofted his own screamer into the back of the net.

“I knew coming down we had the play set and the matchup we wanted. I knew in the moment that’s my shot,” Jorgensen said.

The Canby bench subsequently invaded the Clackamas High field, celebrating one of the Cougars’ greatest wins in recent memory.

Since 2010, the Cougars have reached the state playoffs once and the Cascade Cup semifinals three times.

With the win they earned a spot in the finals for the first time.

“It’s nice to finally get over that hump and get to the championship,” Jorgensen said.

Canby reached the Cascade Cup semifinals with a 15-7 victory over Hermiston in the first round and a 14-8 win over Southridge in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals game served as a quasi-rubber match between two league rivals.

Canby lost to Clackamas 13-7 and beat the Cavaliers 9-8 in overtime in the two games between the Three Rivers League schools during the regular season.

And Clackamas appeared on the verge of seizing the victory early on.

The Cavaliers boggled up Canby’s offense and took advantage of poor clearances and turnovers in the first half. Clackamas player Logan Phillips scored two goals in transition in the first quarter and three goals in the first half to give his team a 6-4 halftime lead.

Jorgensen says the Cougars’ team captains, addressed the team at halftime.

“I think we had to work out the kinks. We came out a little flat, missed some passes, made some silly mistakes. The captains led us pretty good at halftime, gave us a good speech and you could see it,” he said. “In the third quarter we were just a different team.”

Aaron Kromer assisted Nathan Pietrok and McDonald assisted Jorgensen to tie the game 6-6 early in the second half to open a dominant third quarter.

Jorgensen, who finished with a team-high six goals, scored a hat-trick in the third quarter while the Cougars took a 10-8 lead heading into the fourth quarter and an 11-8 lead with 10:42 left in the game.

But Clackamas countered with a 5-0 run and led 13-11 with 4:23 left in the game.

“It’s frustrating but we just have to keep our heads on our shoulders,” Jorgensen said. “We never pointed fingers.”

Pilorget drew the Cougars within one with a shot that blazed to the right of the Clackamas goalie’s eyes and into the net.

After McDonald’s goal at the end of regulation, Clackamas nearly scored in transition but Keller thwarted a point blank shot attempt. Later, a Clackamas player dropped the ball a few feet from Canby’s net.

“I was a little nervous but confident in my goalie. He made some good saves in the end and our defense played great. They got us the opportunities we need,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen was optimistic about his team’s chances in heading into the championship game.

His thoughts proved prescient.

“I think we are going to build off of this momentum and I’m hoping we will go right over them. This was one of the best teams in this tournament and beating these guys was a pretty big boost of confidence,” he said. “I think we will go out there and destroy.”