To say the Hood River Valley lacrosse team wanted to go to the playoffs this spring would have been a grave understatement.
This fiery group of stick-handlers didn’t just want to make the playoffs in 2003. They expected to be there. In fact, they expected to win.
Which is ultimately why the Eagles were able to win in the playoffs for the first time in team history — a 16-11 shootout over Lake Oswego on May 20.
“What the team should be most proud of is that after we got down late in the year, we were able to bounce back and win our final two regular season games and one in the playoffs,” said first-year head coach Mac Jackson, who inherited a program with 15 senior leaders.
“Beating Lake Oswego was a cool way to finish, and I think when the seniors look back on this season, that is what they will remember most,” he said.
The Eagles eventually lost 9-6 to Sheldon in the quarterfinals, but the overriding feeling on the team was that the season shouldn’t have been over so soon.
“We were really starting to play our game at the end of the year,” said senior attacker Jon Munk, who was named to the all-conference first team along with defender Todd Shypertt.
“I think that if we saw Sheldon on our home field, it would have been a different story. The long bus ride and the heat just took us out of our rhythm, and that’s why we only scored six goals,” he said.
The 2003 season was full of similar scenarios for the HRV lacrosse team. Just when it looked like the Eagles were going to cruise into the playoffs, they lost three straight league games and had to rebound late in the season just to qualify.
Two losses to Oregon Episcopal School — the Columbia Division champ and state runner-up — and another to Grant put the Eagles in a must-win situation for the final regular-season game against Wilson.
But HRV responded in a big way, taking down the Trojans 15-4 to squeeze into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the division.
“I think the big thing for our guys was just to finish strong,” Jackson said. “In the two seasons before, we had finished with a drop, and I think they realized that they didn’t want that to happen again. So, in the end, they made sure it didn’t.”
Jackson bid goodbye to 15 seniors after the season, and tipped his cap to each and every one of them.
Joining Munk and Shypertt on the all-conference rosters were seniors Todd Anderson, Jacobe Krizman, Tyler Monzie and Nate Dethman, who each made the second team.
Other seniors moving on after the season were defenders Noel Thomas, Jared Gidley and John Thatcher, goalie Sean Jennings, middies Justin Wiley, Will Galvin and M.D. Low, and attackers Corey Olsen and Corey VanDlac.
Team scoring leaders were Munk with 44 goals, Anderson with 33 goals, Krizman and Monzie with 20 goals each, and VanDlac with 17 goals.
Also of note, Munk and Shypertt were awarded scholarships to play at Notre Dame De Namur in the San Francisco Bay area. Shypertt was also named to the all-state second team.