CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State clinched a spot in the PNCLL playoffs after an 8-4 win against No. 23 Boise State at Lake Oswego High School last Sunday. The Beavers, who have a 3-0 conference record, now sit in second place behind Oregon, who are atop the PNCLL with a 4-0 record.
Clinching a conference playoff birth has been a goal for OSU all season, and winning the conference playoffs gives an automatic bid to the 2016 MCLA National Tournament powered by Under Armour.
Oregon State got off to a slow start offensively, recording just one goal on 14 first quarter shots. Despite the slow start on offense, the OSU defense held Boise State scoreless in the first period. The offensive struggles continued into the second quarter and the game went into half time tied at two.
“We struggled with shooting early, even though we were getting our looks and executing our offense,” said Oregon State coach Chad Stelling. “Our defense kept us in the game.”
Boise State came out firing in the third quarter and jumped out to a 3-2 advantage before OSU was able to tie the game at 3-3. The Broncos again took the lead at 4-3, but that would be the last goal they would score due to some outstanding play from goalie Nick Widmer.
“Our defense played very hard and we bounced back after a tough weekend versus Chapman,” said Widmer. “I saw the first few shots from the Boise offense and made the first save, which is always a good indicator that I will be making some saves. I was lucky enough to have 18 saves on 22 shots, which I credit to the defense in front of me.”
After conceding a fourth goal, the momentum swung in the favor of OSU. The Beavers rattled off five-straight goals thanks to attackman Trevor Garner. The senior recorded four goals on the day and led the Beavers front line against a pesky Bronco defense. Despite the offensive outburst late in the game, Stelling credited the win to the play of his goalie and defense.
“Our defense was tremendous,” said Stelling. “Boise State is a talented team, and they challenged us, but our guys stepped up, focused on their assignments and were extremely disciplined all day. This unit is really beginning to gel and play well together.”
Now with a playoff spot locked up, OSU is focused on finishing the season strong and getting the top seed in the PNCLL playoffs. OSU has a double-header weekend on the road against Washington on April 8 and then home against Idaho on Sunday, April 10.
“It’s one game at a time four us,” said Stelling. “We are focused for two tough conference games this weekend and certainly it is very important for us to get that top seed and give ourselves the best opportunity to move on in the playoffs.”
After his standout performance against Boise State, Garner knows the importance of regrouping and staying focused to close the season out on a high note.
“We are really trying to focus up and get mentally prepared for two tough games this weekend. We executed really well in the second half and are looking to continue that into this weekend,” said Garner. “We have three games left in our regular season and they are all crucial conference games and we can’t slip up, especially if we want to compete for a national championship.”
With three games remaining on the schedule the Beavers are looking to keep pace with the University of Oregon. If the Beavers are able to execute and pick up two wins against Idaho and Washington, it will set up a battle for the top seed in the PNCLL playoffs against the Ducks on April 23. But for now, OSU is focused on a challenging double-header and giving their seniors one last home win against Idaho on Sunday.
(story by Caleb Clearman)