The HRV boys lacrosse team felt confident heading into their Cascade Cup title-game matchup with 6A Westview Friday evening, and they had their reasons.
The top seed in Oregon High School Lacrosse Association’s (OHSLA) second-tier playoff bracket, the Eagles had outscored their three playoff opponents, on aggregate, 47-12, and were hosting the finals. The Wildcats were underdogs, entering the championship as a seven seed, and defeated two of their three opponents by just two points, including Wilson, a team that HRV beat 11-6 at the conclusion of the regular season.
However, an impressive performance by Westview, coupled with injuries to key HRV players, deflated the Eagles’ hopes of winning their second Cascade Cup title in three years. In front of a crowd of approximately 150 people, the Wildcats built up their lead in the second quarter and weathered a modest rally by HRV in the fourth, closing out the contest with a 13-8 win and the team’s first Cascade Cup championship.
“Westview was the better team tonight,” Luchsinger admitted. “They came out and they executed their game plan and they ran it very well. They were patient on offense and they pressured our offense harder than we’ve been pressured in a while. We’ve had a lot of fairly easy games leading up to this one, you can say, where our offense wasn’t really challenged, so I don’t think they were quite ready for that amount of pressure.”
HRV never had the lead, but initially matched Westview’s offense, evening up the score every time the Wildcats found the back of the net. With time ticking down to the end of the first, the game was knotted at 2-2.
However, Westview scored again to go up 3-2 with three minutes remaining, and disaster struck when starting goaltender Jhett Chrisman sustained a neck injury on a successful Westview scoring attempt that put the Wildcats up 4-2 with 90 seconds remaining in the first and put the Eagles down a player. Attacks Henry Barton and Jackson Lebsack also lost playing time due to injuries — a fitting, if unfortunate coda to a season that saw HRV deal with chronic injury and illness issues.
Luchsinger said the loss of Chrisman was “a huge part of the game,” as the Wildcats sensed an opportunity and shelled starting midfielder Levi Glass, who, having played goalie only once this season, valiantly subbed in net. The Eagles got another goal to pull within one, but Westview dominated possession the second quarter, outscoring HRV 4-0. Though Chrisman eventually returned in the third, the damage was done.
“Levi, man, that kid’s got a lot of heart and he is not scared of a thing,” Luchsinger said. “He goes in there, he’s ready to play. I have to give that guy huge props, because he’s not afraid of anything to step in that cage, which is a huge deal.”
Though the Eagles struggled to find the back of the net, going on a 22-minute scoring drought that stretched from the end of the first to the final two minutes of the third, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. HRV tested Westview’s goalie, Matthew Dieter, often, but Dieter was ready. HRV pulled within three goals in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but couldn’t catch up to the Wildcats, who, at that point, were emphasizing possession over scoring.
“I will say our offense did a good job. They had a ton of shots. And I will say I think Westview’s goalie had the game of his career,” Luchsinger noted. “He had a lot of saves that were off his legs, off his knees, chest, and he had the game of his career. There’s no doubt about it, because our guys were putting the ball on the net and he was stopping them. And they were good shots from our guys. They were great shots.”
Leading the offense was team captain Bruce Ostler, who tallied three points on two goals and an assist. Also scoring points were Barton (two goals), Cale Brown (goal), Steven Crouch (goal), Jack McCaffrey (goal), Lebsack (assist), and Glass (assist). Alex McAlpine had more competition in the circle than usual, but still won 14 out of 23 faceoffs (61 percent).
Unlike in past years, Luchsinger will see a lot of turnover due to the high number of seniors this season. Playing their last game for the Eagles were seniors Ostler, Barton, Glass, Crouch, Lebsack, Charlie Cohn, Wyatt Mansfield, and Alex Munoz.
“We’re losing a lot of kids this year, but we have a great group of juniors and sophomores and a fabulous group of freshmen that came up this year,” Luchsinger said. “So, those kids that are going to be sophomores now had a great season down on JV and a lot of them are going to have a chance of making varsity next year.”