CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State is headed back to the MCLA National Championship for a second straight year after two hard fought victories against Boise State and regular season champion Oregon in the PNCLL conference tournament.
After losing to Oregon in their final game of the season, the Beavers headed to Boise as the second seed in tournament looking to defend their title. In the first round, OSU faced Boise State and PNCLL MVP Adam Smith. The Broncos jumped out to a big lead in the first half and went into the break with a 6-2 advantage.
“I was so proud of how much we competed," said Oregon State coach Chad Stelling. "That first game we were down early and could have rolled over, but we kept fighting and kept fighting. I think that it’s a testament to the way this team has overcome obstacles all year.”
The Beavers responded in the third quarter with six goals to take an 8-7 advantage into the final quarter. The Broncos kept things close down the stretch and were able to tie it up late in the game, sending the semifinal into overtime. Senior attackman Seth Goddin scored the game winner off an assist from Kyle Baldes to send OSU to the PNCLL final.
The Beavers were led by a four-goal performance from J.R. McGloughlin. Midfielder Kevin Larkin totaled five points, adding three goals and two assists.
In the final, the Beavers faced off against Civil War rival Oregon, who claimed the top seed in the tournament after defeating OSU 12-10 in the regular season finale. The Ducks rolled into the final with a comfortable 18-9 win against the University of Washington in the other semifinal.
The championship game got off to a slow start with each team scoring twice in the opening quarter. OSU added a goal in the second quarter to take a 3-2 lead into halftime.
“We found a way to stay positive and focused, especially in the championship game. After getting up early, it came down to us just playing within ourselves and executing our game plan,” said Stelling.
In the second half the Beavers were able to build an 8-4 lead midway through the final quarter before Oregon mounted a comeback. Oregon cut the four goal cushion down to one, making the score 8-7 before OSU was able to score two more goals to seal a 10-8 victory.
The win marks the third time in four years that Oregon State will represent the PNCLL at the MCLA National Championships.
“This group of seniors has won three PNCLL titles now, which says a lot about their character and their unwavering drive to grow this program,” said Stelling.
In the first round of the MCLA National Championships, Oregon State will face off against fifth-seeded BYU. The Cougars enter the tournament as champions of the RMLC after wins against both Colorado State and Colorado in the conference tournament.
The Cougars were ranked in the Top 10 for the majority of the season and faced off against top competition in Chapman, Grand Canyon and conference opponents Colorado and Colorado State, who were all ranked in the top 5 throughout the year.
The Beavers and Cougars have each played Chapman, Boise State and Simon Fraser this season, with both losing to top ranked Chapman. The Beavers are prepared for a unique BYU team that could present a challenge on offense.
“They are an extremely athletic team and they run a different style of offense than what we are used to seeing, so we are going to have to match their physicality and their intensity,” said Stelling. “We will have to execute at a very high level, and I don’t know if they necessarily have seen a team like us.”
Both teams will be looking to advance to the second round of the tournament after failing to do so in their last two trips to nationals. The winner of the game will take on the winner of the Georgia Tech-Cal contest.
“A win against BYU would be huge for this group," said Stelling. "It would mark the first time an OSU team advanced to the national quarterfinals.”
Game time is set for Monday at 7:15 p.m. PDT. The game will be available to watch on www.mcla.us via LaxTV.
(Photo by Bob White)