News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Outlaws lacrosse winds down the season on the road

The boys lacrosse squad poured their hearts out and left it all on the field in their 10-6 loss at Ridgeview on Wednesday, May 10. The Outlaws again played with just 11 players compared to the Ravens 22. Two days later they recorded a 14-6 win at Burns.

On Wednesday, against Ridgeview, Sisters got off to a good start as they won face-offs and controlled the ball for most of the first quarter. Cooper Merrill got the Outlaws on the scoreboard three minutes into the contest and a couple minutes later Ethan Martin scored to put Sisters on top 2-0.

Ridgeview came back with two goals to tie it up 2-2, but Kyle Pilarski answered with a goal and Sisters regained the lead. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last as Ridgeview’s best scorer, Riley Yozamp, scored his third straight goal to knot it up at 3-3 to close out the quarter.

Sisters retook the lead early in the second period with another goal from Merrill in the first minute, but the Ravens controlled the ball from that point on. The Outlaws struggled to clear the ball from their defensive end to their offensive end and Ridgeview was able to tack on additional goals.

In the third, Merrill tallied his third goal of the contest, and Hayden Kunz scored off a fast break feed from Gus Patton. The Ravens held the Outlaws scoreless in the final quarter, and added four goals of their own in the second half to secure the win.

On Friday, the Outlaws made the long trek to Burns for their final game of the regular season. Sisters had their usual 11 players available for action and Burns had 12.

Patton played at attack rather than his normal middie position due to a nagging sore hip. The hip didn’t deter his play as he scored Sisters’ first goal just 40 seconds into the game. Eli Palanuk scored 90 seconds later off a Patton assist, and then Cooper Merrill posted the first of his six goals in the game two minutes later for an Outlaw 3-0 lead.

Burns got their first goal midway through the period. Merrill gave the Outlaws their fourth goal with five minutes left in the quarter, and Burns answered a minute later to close the gap 2-4. Ian Landon made a nice catch and shot a goal off a feed from Eli Palanuk with 30 seconds left to close out the first quarter with a 5-2 advantage.

The second quarter teams played even, with each squad scoring three goals each. Sisters got two of their goals from Merrill, and one from Kunz. Justin Blake stopped a total of nine shots in the first half from his goalie position. At the half Sisters held an 8-5 lead.

Burns got the first goal of the second half, and Coach Patton said that seemed to give his boys a jolt. From there the Outlaws went on a run and scored five straight goals, three from Gus Patton, one from Evan Martin, and one from Cooper Merrill.

Sisters entered the final quarter up 13-5. At that point the Outlaws just tried to control the ball and get shots from some of the players who don’t often score. Burn’s goalie did a nice job of denying the Outlaws those scores, with four saves in the period.

The Outlaw’s defense stood strong and held the Hilanders scoreless in the final quarter of play. Sisters finished with a final goal from Merrill, who had been singled out for lock-down coverage by their defense, netting his sixth goal of the game with less than a minute left on the clock.

Coach Patton said, “Despite the long distance, it’s always one of the highlights of our season to play at Burns. They are a small school like us and there is a sense of camaraderie between our two teams. They’re also a team that has a majority Native American roster and draw from nearby Paiute tribe, which brings a unique element to the game, considering that lacrosse has its origins as a Native American game.

“Before the game both teams met in a circle in the middle of the field and Burns Coach Rick Roy led a ceremony honoring the roots of the game and set the tone for a respectful competition,” added Patton.

Patton again commended his players for making a gutsy effort in a physically demanding game with just one available sub. The Outlaw’s defensive unit of Kyle Pilarski, Hunter Lea, Lex Jeffery, and Cole Peters, along with goalie Justin Blake, all had a strong second half, and held the Hilanders to just one goal, and that at the very beginning of the half.

Attack players, Cooper Merrill, Gus Patton, and Ian Landon did a good job of controlling the ball, and were patient and waited for good shots. Midfielders Hayden Kunz, Evan Martin, and Eli Palanuk were relentless and ran their tails off back-and-forth on both ends of the field and were key to the Outlaws success, especially when it came to controlling ground balls.

Patton said, “Almost all our players had to rotate into a different position at some point in the game in order to provide rest for one of their teammates. That has been one of the positives this season because with a small roster the boys have gotten in a lot of playing time in a variety of positions. It hasn’t been easy, and that’s a good thing, because now they know that they can do hard things and they can also apply that lesson to other parts of their lives.”

Following the game the Outlaws enjoyed a meal of Subway sandwiches provided by their hosts, and from there traveled 20 miles further east for a dip in the Crystal Crane Hot Springs before making the three-hour return drive home.

A week earlier at home against Burns on May 2, the Outlaws honored their three seniors, Justin Blake, Hayden Kunz, and Gus Patton.

Blake played as the Outlaws goalie and was the backbone of the defensive unit.

Patton said, “Goalies face a lot of pressure protecting the goal and a lot of abuse deflecting a solid hard rubber ball fired at them at a high speed. Justin has been both physically and mentally tough for us in this critical role on the team.”

Kunz was an integral part of the team as a fantastic midfielder.

“Hayden has brought a high level to the team in toughness, as well in his role as a midfielder. He plays 110 percent at all times and will run himself ragged. He seems to have a knack for drawing physical abuse from the opposing team. Hayden is a vocal leader of the team who also leads by example.”

Rounding out the seniors is Gus Patton, who has played the game since he was in kindergarten.

“Gus was our main face-off guy this season and more often than not would win us possession of the ball. He was our team leader in ground balls and assists and our second leading scorer this season. But most importantly, he was a steady leader both during our practices and in our games. He played with heart and toughness for four years of varsity lacrosse.”

Patton also had kind words for Assistant Coach Doug Hull.

“Doug had such an important role our on team this season,” said Patton. “He is a great teacher of the game and has a huge heart for the boys on the team. I want to thank him for taking time away from his work as a building contractor to help the team. And, I also want to thank former player Titan Kroytz for coming back to help out as a volunteer assistant.”

The Outlaws will wait to see if they make it to the Cascade Cup playoffs. They currently sit just outside of the ranking spot that’s needed.


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