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Steven Crouch and the Eagle lacrosse unloads on La Salle in regular season finale, sends HRV to the playoffs

It may not have been the way they originally expected to make it, but the Eagles officially qualified for the Oregon boys lacrosse playoffs, grabbing the penultimate spot available in the 24-team tournament.

HRV (11-7, 1-5 Portland League) made sure there were no loose ends in its final regular season matchup Tuesday against La Salle (4-10, 1-4 Northwest League), crushing the Falcons 17-3 on Senior Night, in what was the team’s most lopsided victory of the season since a 17-3 defeat of Nadzitsaga April 22.

“We pretty much ended the regular season on a bang,” said a pleased Matt Luchsinger, head coach for the Eagles. “It was awesome; it was a huge confidence-booster going into the playoffs.”

After the final season standings were tabulated on Wednesday, HRV found itself as a 17-seed in the tournament, playing against No. 16 Glencoe (10-6, 4-3 Pacific League) on the road Friday night (results not available at press time). The two teams did not face each other in the regular season, although they did share some opponents, including tight games against Portland League opponents Central Catholic and Wilson — both of whom HRV lost to in overtime this season. Luchsinger anticipated “a great matchup” between the two teams.

After starting the season 7-0, the Eagles faltered during their league schedule after injuries and academic eligibility issues thinned the varsity roster and contributed to a five-game losing streak starting with the first day of league competition. However, the team has rebounded in the past couple weeks, winning three of its last four con-tests.

Luchsinger has relied on young or less experienced players from the junior varsity roster to fill those voids and many have been contributing in big ways, none more than ju-nior attack Steven Crouch, who started the game by scoring a hat trick in the first quarter and scored HRV’s first three goals. He went on to score a team-high eight goals —the most goals scored by any HRV player in a single game this season. That followed up a six-goal effort against Hermiston May 14 and a two-goal game against Grant the night be-fore — both team-highs (Crouch tied with Bruce Ostler for two goals in the Grant game).

“Oh man, Steven coming out of nowhere the past few games,” Luchsinger said. “Steven, in my opinion, has the best lacrosse IQ I’ve seen. He knows where to be at the right time. He always finds a way to get the ball on his stick.”

It took a few minutes for HRV to find its footing and La Salle was able to score the initial goal against the Eagles. However, Crouch’s scoring spurt put HRV up in front for good, although the Falcons did continue to pressure HRV throughout the half and created a handful of scoring opportunities.

“We were lucky enough to put pressure on them to get them to turn over the ball,” Luchsinger explained. “We did a really good job of controlling the ground balls and the faceoff.” He added that the team has been trying to play more “five-second ball,” meaning players have five seconds to get the ball out of their sticks and to another player, causing the opposing defense to shift more frequently and create lanes to the net.

That ball movement led to a lot of assists at Henderson Community Stadium Tuesday evening. Ostler was everywhere putting up a team-high six assists and collecting six ground balls, as well as scoring a goal. Senior Torsen Brown was next with four assists, two goals, and three ground balls. His brother, Cale, was next with four points (three goals and an assist) and also collected five ground balls. Elliot Cramer connected on two assists and senior Alex Ellifritz had one as well. Mason Collins and Bryce Donald rounded out the scoring for HRV with two goals and one goal, respectively. Jhett Chris-man had a quiet, but effective night in net, stopping four of seven shots (57 percent).

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