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State title contenders?

Coach Kramer says she believes her charges can contend for the state title


by: RAFAEL GONZALEZ - Oregon City senior co-captain Emily Krupa (16) takes control in the Pioneers jamboree game with St. Marys.With only three players lost to graduation off of last year’s team that lost to defending state champion Lake Oswego in the 2012 semifinals, the Oregon City Pioneers have high expectations in high school girls lacrosse this spring.

The Pioneers this year are led by eight seniors — Danielle Kirby and Kennedy Kullmann in the attack positions; Emily Krupa, McKenzie Rollins and Mallery Wellschlager in the midfield; Savannah Ross and Antonia Graham on defense; and Annaliese Hernandez in-goal.

And the seniors are hungry. Last year was only the second time since 2007 that the Pioneers had not made the state final. They were state champions in 2009 and 2010, and state finalists in 2007 and 2011.

Kirby was a first-team all-league selection last year, while Lanz and Krupa were second-team league all-stars.

The Pioneers return four other players who started in last year’s semifinal game with the Lakers. Juniors Taylor Bass and Toni Graham were starting attackers, junior Cassie Downing started in the midfield, and sophomore Monica Curtis started on defense.

Ranked second in the state behind Wilsonville, the Pioneers have been impressive in early preseason matches, posting convincing wins over Century (18-5), Liberty (19-5) and Sunset (15-10), after handling Jesuit (6-4), Beaverton (10-2), Wilson (6-2) and St. Mary’s (8-0) in a jamboree.

And the Pioneers proved that they deserve to be ranked among the state’s best teams last Thursday, when they took Wilsonville down to the wire in a 12-11 loss.

The Wilsonville game was as close as the final score might indicate. Oregon City goalie Annalise Hernandez made 10 saves on 22 shots on-frame; Wilsonville goalie Olivia Chase made 11 saves on 22 shots on-frame.

Commenting on the Wilsonville game, Oregon City coach Dara Kramer said: “We were missing players and playing our bench — not focused on the win. If we play them full-strength, it will be very different....

“We played girls in different positions and subbed out a lot, focusing on getting our freshmen experience in the midfield. We played two freshmen at attack wing, rather than the usual seniors, because we want them to get the experience now to be prepared for league play. Our league games count for getting into playoffs, so we weren’t worried about the score in that game. [Wilsonville is] ranked No. 1 because of the computer program and their games so far, but it won’t stay like that.

“They are a possible wild card — I could see them in the final 4. But I don’t think they can handle a team like West Linn or Lake Oswego.”

Kramer said of her Pioneers’ prospects for contending for a state title:

“We are definitely a contender.... We played both West Linn and LO at the University of Oregon 7 v 7 on Feb. 2. We beat LO by three and lost to West Linn by one. Of course, this is 7 v 7, instead of 12 v 12, but it has always been a good preseason meter in the past.

“I think it really depends on the growth of our new players. If they’re able to step up like [co-head coach Erin Meyer] and I think they can, then I think we definitely have the potential for a state title.”

Kirby and Lanz have been the Pioneers’ most consistent scorers, both girls scoring at least three goals in the Pioneers’ first three preseason games.

Lanz was big in last Thursday’s game with the Wilsonville Wildcats, scoring five goals. Abby Chase had five goals to lead Wilsonville.

Kirby (4 goals, 2 assists), Lanz (4 goals, 2 assists) and Kullmann (3 goals) headed the effort in the March 19 win at Sunset. Hernandez had saves on 10 of 20 shots taken by the Apollos.

Lanz (4 goals, one assist), Kirby (3 goals, 2 assists) and freshman Britney Smith (3 goals, one assists) led eight Oregon City players who found the net in the March 14 rout of Liberty. Hernandez and sophomore Gabby Amendolara played in-goal, combining to make two saves on seven shots on-frame.

Kirby (3 goals, 2 assists), Lanz (3 goals, one assist) and freshman Lindsi Peters (3 goals) headed the assault in the March 12 season-opening rout of Century. Amendolara had three saves on eight shots.

“I am really looking forward to seeing where this team goes,” Kramer said. “We have six freshmen — Lindsi Peters, Alicia Westphal, Claudia Hatch, Britney Smith, Alyssa Schroeder and Jennifer Burke — which we’ve never had before. Having mostly seniors and freshmen has created a unique mentoring type of teamwork, and I think their learning curve is going to be huge.”

The Pioneers conclude the preseason next week, hosting Jesuit Monday at 8 p.m. and Westview Wednesday (April 3) at 8 p.m.

Three Rivers League play begins on Monday, April 8, when the Pioneers play Clackamas on the road.



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