The HRV boys lacrosse team had a solid season in 2015, culminating in the team’s first-ever Cascade Cup championship win — a tournament comprised of the bottom 16 Oregon boys lacrosse teams that did not get into the regular playoff tournament.
However, returning coach Matt Luchsinger expects that he won’t see his team in the Cascade Cup this year — championship or otherwise — and that’s a good thing.
“They’re playing extremely well, better than I’ve ever seen them play,” he said of the Eagles, who narrowly missed the playoffs last season. “I think we’re going to make a run at that state championship, for sure… it’s the strongest team I’ve seen in the five years that I’ve coached.”
Luchsinger notes that last year’s team was “extremely young” and not much has changed this season, with the majority of the 2015 squad returning. Last year, the team lost only four to graduation and only has four seniors on the team this season. Of the 44 other players who compose the varsity and JV squads, 17 are juniors and the remaining are sophomores and freshmen. This year’s team will be captained by veteran players Alex Ellifritz, Bruce Ostler, Torsenn Brown, and Elliot Cramer.
The team got off to a great start this season, defeating Camas on the road, 12-10, March 18 and then defeating Sheldon, 12-4, in Hood River March 21.
“I thought they performed extremely well in the first game,” Luchsinger said. “It was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen them play. We had some penalties that hurt us, but overall, they played their hearts out, so they deserved that win for sure.”
The Brown brothers (younger brother Cale and older brother Torsenn) produced the majority of HRV’s scoring in that game, tallying five and two goals, respectively. Other scorers included Cody Wheat (2), Levi Glass (1), Cramer (1), and Ostler (1). Ostler also had a team-high four assists and six ground balls. Goalie Mikey Hall stopped 11 of 21 shots (52 percent).
In the game Monday against Sheldon, Luchsinger’s players had to find ways to keep themselves busy after taking the field at 3:30 p.m. in anticipation for a 5:15 p.m. game start time. However, the Sheldon team, located in Eugene, had bus issues and didn’t arrive until around 6:30 p.m., forcing a 7 p.m. start.
Wind, rain, chilly temperatures, and a delayed start time made for a slow first half for both teams.
“I can’t blame them for starting slow,” Luchsinger said. “The kids had been at the high school since 3:30 and the game kept getting pushed back and pushed back.”
After what Luchsinger called a “bit of a rocky first half,” the team “came out the second half and shut (Sheldon) down,” limiting the Fighting Irish to just two shots in the second half, while the Eagles amped up their offense and pulled ahead to get their second win of the season.
Scoring was spread around well in this game, but Ostler led with four goals. Next was Wheat, with three, followed by Jackson Lebsack (2), Cramer (1), Russel Grim (1), and Charlie Cohn (1). Goalie Jhet Chrisman was tested less in this game than the last, making four saves on just eight shots (50 percent).
Luchsinger added that in addition to scoring goals and winning games, he has enjoyed watching how the team has “really come together in a family sense,” noting that they are “10 steps ahead” of where they were last year at this time.
With two games under their belts, the Eagles (2-0) sit atop the Columbia Conference standings. Luchsinger said that he expects Oregon Episcopal School (OES) and Lincoln to field competitive teams as they have done in previous years, along with Wilson and Central Catholic. This year, though, Luchsinger expects that HRV will also be a force to be reckoned with in the Columbia Conference and may be able to knock off some of the perennial favorites and clinch a playoff spot, if not more.
“The sky’s the limit with these kids,” he said.
HRV will be doing quite a bit of traveling over the next two or three weeks, with the Eagles not returning for a home game until an April 12 contest with Liberty. HRV starts a four-game road trip against Canby March 31 after the team returns from spring break.