Heart of a champion
Pioneers fall a game short of a perfect season
HILLSBORO - The Oregon City Pioneers dropped a 10-8 heartbreaker to Three Rivers League rival Lake Oswego in last Thursday's championship final of Oregon high school girls lacrosse.
It was especially painful for the Pioneers, because they entered the game with an unblemished 21-0 record on the season and they had beaten the Lakers twice - in close games - in league play.
But even with the loss, the Pioneers left Hillsboro Stadium No. 1 in the hearts of their fans. They had given their all for a full 50 minutes of the 50-minute championship game.
Afterwards, Oregon City fans demonstrated their appreciation by chanting, 'We still love you. We still love you. We still love you….'
Meanwhile Lake Oswego players and fans mobbed Lake Oswego senior goalie Carly Hall, who played a major role in the third-ranked Lakers' upset of the top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Pioneers.
Hall had made save-after-save to lead the Lakers in the upset. The Laker defense also played a strong game, setting up counterattacks and guarding tight to make the Pioneers work for every one of their eight goals.
Hall was named the championship game's most valuable player.
'Four years of hard work and we finally get it,' said Lake Oswego senior Brittany Scrugham. 'It feels amazing!'
'It's awesome!' said Lake Oswego senior captain Dana Kilsby. 'Beating Oregon City as a senior, it's all I could want. Oregon City is such an amazing team. They're the best in the state.'
Kilsby, a midfielder, credited her defensive teammates as pivotal in pulling off the upset.
'The key was defense,' Kilsby said. 'Shutting down their big three - Tessa [Keuler], Shelly [Bohrer] and Holly [Cisneros].'
'We have a great defense,' Kilsby added. 'Our offense comes from our defense.'
'We lost, but we gave it our best,' said Oregon City senior co-captain Holly Cisneros. 'We played with so much heart. That's what gets us here year after year: heart, and determination.'
It was Oregon City's fourth state final in the past five seasons. The Pioneers defeated Lake Oswego in the semifinals a year ago and in the state final in 2009.
It's Lake Oswego's first state championship since 2006.
Rallying around a strong passing game and a patient offense, Oregon City scored four quick goals and was in charge early in last week's final, leading 4-1.
But as the Lakers increased their intensity on defense and upped their possessions in their game of transition, they gradually closed the gap.
A goal by Lake Oswego freshman Lexi Cheetham late in the first half made it 5-4 Oregon City at the intermission.
Less than a minute into the second half, LO junior middie Paige Timberg scored the first of her three goals to knot the score at 5-all.
Five minutes later, Kilsby scored, giving the Lakers their first lead of the game.
Bohrer answered for Oregon City a short time late to make it 6-6.
But when Kilsby scored again, off a pass from Timberg, with 13.35 to play, it put the Lakers up for good, at 7-6.
Two goals by Timberg over the next five minutes of play gave the Lakers a 9-6 lead, which proved too much to overcome.
The Pioneers did have their opportunities down the stretch. But most of their shots went wide of the mark, or were saved by Hall, who had the game of her life, making 16 saves.
Kilsby led all scorers with four goals.
Keuler scored three times and Cisneros had two goals and two assists to lead the Pioneers.
Alyssa Albrich, Lanz and Bohrer had one goal apiece.
Oregon City coach Dara Kramer commented on her charges' play: 'Even though it wasn't our best game, the girls still played their hearts out.'
Oregon City advanced to the final through an 11-10 semifinal win over second-ranked Wilson in a May 23 barnburner at Hillsboro Stadium.
The score was tied at 5-5 at halftime, but the Pioneers took charge in the second half, building an 11-7 advantage with eight minutes remaining. Wilson rallied, but couldn't close the gap.
'We had some great defensive stands down the stretch,' said Kramer. 'Wilson was fighting hard to come from behind and needed to score. Our settled defense made them waste a lot of clock trying to get a shot off. Our double teams and slides were strong, and we played as a cohesive unit.'
Asked what was the key to the Pioneer win, Kramer said, 'Teams gun for our top three scorers, so our ability to use our depth was huge.'
Seven different Oregon City players scored. Tia Baxter, Natalie Clegg, Keuler and April Lanz scored two goals apiece, while Bohrer, Cisneros and Alyssa Albrich added single tallies.
Oregon City keeper Kaylee Kolin had seven saves on 17 shots on-frame.
The all-state lacrosse team was revealed at last week's state final, and the Pioneers had six players named to the first team: seniors Kaylee Kolin (goalie), Holly Cisneros (midfield), Shelly Bohrer (midfield), and Tessa Keuler (midfield); junior Sara Thompson (defense); and sophomore Alyssa Albrich (attack).
Lake Oswego had three players make the first team: Timberg (attack), Kilsby (midfield) and Scrugham (defense).
Commenting on the season, Kramer said, 'A 21-1 record is something any team can feel proud of. The girls survived a huge comeback against Lake Oswego earlier in the year, and they managed to pull out the close wins against a senior-heavy Wilson. Even though the one loss was at the worst possible time, they should look back on this season and feel a great sense of accomplishment.'
Kramer said of her charges' prospects for next season: 'We will graduate five starters - Keuler, Kolin, Bohrer, Cisneros and Alicia Wong - but we'll return seven and draw new players from a strong bench, jayvee team and youth program….
'Lake Oswego will be a force again next year, so the perennial rivalry will surely continue. It's a good thing though, because it makes us a better team.'
Cisneros said, 'Yes, [Oregon City] will be back [in the state final].'
Keuler added, 'They may think it's going to be a building year, but it won't be. We've got a lot of talent coming back. They'll be back here, and they'll bring that trophy back to Oregon City.'