Battling adversity, the fifth-ranked Oregon City Pioneers have advanced to the final four in Oregon high school girls lacrosse.
With state playoffs wins over fourth-ranked Oregon Episcopal School (12-11) and Southern Conference runner-up Roseburg (15-9) in games last week, the Pioneers (14-5) advanced to a Tuesday (May 22) semifinal game with undefeated and top-ranked Lake Oswego (17-0). The winner of that game will meet third-ranked West Linn (17-2) or 10th-ranked Lincoln (13-6) Thursday (May 24) at 7 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium in the championship final.
Oregon City met Lake Oswego twice during the regular season, losing 15-10 and 18-10 The Pioneers have lost twice to West Linn, 16-6 and 15-14 in overtime.
Oregon City coach Dara Kramer said of the May 22 semifinal with Lake Oswego: 'It will certainly be an enormous challenge for our young group. Lake Oswego has been ranked No. 1 in the state all season, and they are ranked eighth west of the Mississippi....
'I know the girls will put their full hearts into it, and no matter what the outcome, it will be a season we will be proud of for how far we've come and how much we've overcome....'
Kramer noted that the Pioneers had plenty of adversity last week, with two starters out with concussions, another out with a stress fractures, and girls playing while recovering from strep throat.
'Sophomore attacker Taylor Bass (4 goals) and junior attacker Kennedy Kullmann (2 goals) played great [against OES],' Kramer said. 'Both girls began the season on the bench, and they've stepped it up to fill some big shoes.'
April Lantz scored three goals, while Natalie Clegg, Danielle Kirby and Sara Thompson added single tallies.
The game was close all the way, with four OES players swarming Natalie Clegg, Oregon City's leading scorer, every time she got the ball.
The game went down to the wire, with Oregon City going up 11-10 when Kullmann scored off a pass from Clegg with 3:52 to go. Bass scored her fourth goal with 42 seconds remaining to up the gap to 12-10 and all but assure the Pioneers of the victory. OES scored in the closing seconds, but it proved too little too late.
Kramer said Oregon City goalkeeper Annaliese Hernandez played a pivotal role in the win, making 13 saves on 24 shots on-frame.
Kramer praised junior Danielle Kirby for her defensive play: 'Danielle was the leader of our crease defense communication.'
It was only the second loss of the season for OES (16-2), which fell to St. Mary's 11-8 early in the season. The win snapped an OES win string at 13 games.
Playing short four starters, Oregon City took care of business in a second-round state playoff match with Southern Conference runner-up Roseburg on May 16, defeating the Indians 15-9.