Wildcats' six-game winning streak to start season snapped by Rams

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Andre Morris (1) evades a Central Catholic player during the Wilsonville boys lacrosse team's nonconference game April 10 at Milwaukie High School. The Wildcats fell 10-7.MILWAUKIE — At approximately 9:15 p.m. April 10, the Wilsonville boys lacrosse team got its wake-up call.

It came in the form of the blaring final horn at Milwaukie High School, where the Wildcats were dealt their first loss of the season.

Although they showed resolve in erasing an early deficit, they weren’t able to keep their undefeated record intact in a 10-7 setback against Central Catholic.

It marked the end of a perfect start to the season for Wilsonville (6-1), which entered the matchup with six nonconference victories in a row.

“We’ve gotten away with making a lot of mistakes, and we made the same mistakes tonight but just didn’t get away with them,” second-year Wildcats coach Joe English said. “It showed us what we really need to work on. It was one of those points in the season where you’re riding high because you’re 6-0 and then you realize, ‘Hey, the season’s not over yet. We still have a lot of games to play.’”

Wilsonville appears to be in much better shape now than it was at this point last season, when a 14-12 triumph over Central Catholic was one of just two victories in its first seven games.

The Wildcats are already close to topping last year’s win total of seven, which was the program’s fewest in a season since 2006.

And they certainly seem capable of reaching the state playoffs for the fifth year in a row. But doing so will likely require the team to correct the mistakes it made against the Rams (5-1).

“We’ve got a strong senior class this year and some freshmen who are doing really well, but we had a soft early schedule, so this was our first real test,” graduating midfielder John Hodson said. “It was a close game, and if we capitalize on a couple opportunities we’re right in there. I’m not worried. It was necessary. I wish it would’ve gone differently, but it was a learning experience.”

Hodson brings ample experience to a roster that features four other returning all-league honorees in Andrew Fairrington, long-stick midfielder Jason Johnson, defender Luke Klassy and goalkeeper Evan Richardson. Andre Morris and freshman attacker Zach Shelton, among others, are also making key contributions.

“We’ve got a quality team, and we’ve got a lot of weapons,” English said. “But we couldn’t put it all together.”

Wilsonville’s loss to Central Catholic came on the heels of its wild 9-8 win over Tigard on the road April 7, when it overcame a three-goal deficit in the final period.

Trailing by one late in that game, the Wildcats scored two quick goals and played shutdown defense in the closing moments to complete a thrilling comeback.

“We just hustled for every single ball, we forced it out of their sticks and Brendan Tonkin came up with some really great saves,” English said.

Tonkin has been filling in for Richardson, who has missed time in goal to recover from a concussion.

Regardless of which player is guarding the net, Wilsonville will have to find a way to clamp down on the defensive end. It gave up 18 goals combined to Tigard and Central Catholic after holding each of its first five opponents to an average of 3.6 goals.

The key, Hodson said, is improved communication.

“We have a lot of guys who haven’t played together, so it’s going to take time to get the ‘D’ to work together,” he said.

Hodson notched four goals to lead the Wildcats against the Rams, while Fairrington added two and Cole Bronson chipped in one.

Wilsonville seemed out of sync early, failing to score in the opening period and trailing 5-2 at halftime.

“We didn’t come out as strong as we could have, and everybody knew that,” Hodson said.

The Wildcats regrouped and came out firing in the third period, putting away two goals within 10 seconds of each other to pull within 5-4 with 9:59 left and tying the game at 5-5 on a goal by Hodson about 90 seconds later.

But Central Catholic responded with a three-goal surge of its own to take an 8-5 lead and maintained an edge of at least two goals the rest of the way.

In a brief postgame huddle, English implored his team not let the loss spoil its campaign.

Indeed, the program has made noticeable strides since he took the helm at the beginning of last season.

"The chemistry of the team is much better,” he said. “They’re understanding my philosophy a little better. We’re all a little more comfortable this year.”

Added Hodson: “We definitely have a lot of the fluidity and the motion that we wanted to have. We’re all starting to get to know each other a little bit better. It’s going a lot smoother.”



Central Catholic 10, Wilsonville 7

April 10 at Milwaukie High School

                        1          2          3          4 — F

Wilsonville      0          2          4          1 — 7

Central Cath.   3          2          3          2 — 10

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