SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- Following a scrimmage against Portland, the Oregon State men’s lacrosse team traveled to San Rafael, Calif., to officially kick off the 2017 season. After the 26-man squad returned from a 10-hour van ride each way, they had 2-0 record and a solid win against a Top 25 opponent.
First up was Dominican. The former NCAA squad, whic hosted a quartet of games between the WCLL and PNCLL, opened their season at the same time, providing both teams with a difficult first game. An early hat trick from freshman attackman Matt Hockman jump-started the Beaver offense in the first half, but it was the defense that really locked in the lead.
Junior goalie Justin Roach, a first-time starter, thwarted all but one late first half attempt by the Penguins, who broke the shutout with under 30 seconds to go in the half. Despite the score, the Beavers rolled into halftime with a 7-1 lead that they would not relinquish.
A rocky third quarter opened a window for a Penguin comeback, but the defense stood tall in the fourth quarter to preserve a 10-5 win over the hosts. Despite some first game jitters, the win instilled plenty of confidence in players and coaches alike, as the Beavers’ defense proved that scoring would be hard to come by.
The entire starting defense was jointly awarded the game ball for the day, and a big performance from the attack line (Hockman 4g, Kyle Baldes 3g) provided enough offensive spark to keep the game out of Dominican’s reach.
Sunday provided the biggest showdown of the weekend in San Rafael, as the No. 12 Beavers faced off against No. 25 Sonoma State. SSU, which beat the Beavers in Corvallis during the 2016 season, looked like a lot to handle on film, and both coaches and players certainly had plenty of nerves heading into the afternoon tilt.
In what proved to be a physical, defensive affair, the Beavers came out of the gates hot, leading 4-0 after the first quarter. With the attack stymied by the Sonoma poles, the midfield stepped into the scoring column, led by senior captain Spencer Rotenberg.
However, Sonoma would not go down without a fight. A furious comeback by the Seawolves found the few cracks in the OSU defense, and the game was tied at six heading into the final frame. With the nationals committee certainly watching, a lot was on the line for both squads.
The stalemate lasted several minutes into the fourth quarter, with both defenses shutting down multiple attempts to break the deadlock. Both teams desperately needed a momentum play, and the Beavers struck first.
On a loose ball surrounded by three Seawolves, junior attackman Connor Perkins fought through the crowd to recover the ground ball, leading to a goal for the Beavers. The score sparked a 3-0 run for the Beavers, swinging momentum firmly back to OSU. A late goal by Sonoma State with 18 seconds remaining in the game proved harmless, with the scoreboard reading 9-7 in the Beaver’s favor.
Despite a solid performance by the Beaver defense throughout the weekend, the game ball was presented to Rotenberg, who promptly walked it over to the defense, refusing credit.
Back in Corvallis, the Beavers are hard at work preparing for the upcoming Pac-12 Shootout in Los Angeles. Oregon State will face No. 10 Arizona on Saturday before taking on host school UCLA to close the weekend.
(Photo by Robert White)