By ADAM LAPIERRE
News staff writer
April 26, 2006
Lacrosse is a booming sport in Hood River.
A high school boys’ team started here during the mid ‘90s, as a club playing against only a handful of high school teams in the state. The sport caught on fast in town, spreading from the one boys’ team to boys’ and girls’ teams at the grade school, middle school and high school levels. Youth participation in the sport is estimated to have doubled in only the last two years.
And among the armor-plated youngsters this year is the 7 - 8 grade boys’ team, which consists of boys (and one girl, Catherine Kiyakawa) from Hood River and Wy’east middle schools.
“This year was a big transition for the team,” Coach Peter Nance commented. “We started practice with about one-third returning players, one-third players from the 5-6 grade program and one-third players who had never played before. And the biggest surprise on the team so far is how well the first-year players have picked up the game.”
Despite losing their starting goalie, attack line, several middies and about half of the defense to Hood River Valley High School, the middle school squad came together fast and is undefeated after five games, with wins against teams from Liberty, Tigard, West Linn, Lincoln and Glencoe.
“As our season progressed, several of the senior boys were asked to take leadership roles within the team,” Nance explained. “And their efforts are a major reason the team is off to a strong start… . One major difference about this year’s team is how much smaller and lighter we are than last year. As a result, we have transitioned from a power game to one of speed and quickness.”
The team was also able to find a couple of brave volunteers to step up to the goalie position which, for those unfamiliar with lacrosse, can be the scariest position on the field. Even at the middle school level, players can huck shots at the goal faster than the speed limit on I-84.
Last week the team came up with a big win against Glenco. Although the players were outsized, they showed great skill by using their speed and conditioning to wear down their larger, more physical opponents.
“It was a prime example of how our speed and style of play wore down a substantially larger and more physical team,” Nance said. “The game was very close during the first quarter, but near the end of the half we scored several quick goals because Glencoe defensemen had worn themselves out trying to keep up with our faster attack players. We played well as a team at both ends of the field and didn’t get frustrated during the early part of the game when we were being out-muscled.”