Streaking Raider lacrosse team rolls at home

The Southern Oregon University lacrosse team over the weekend reached new heights to secure a bye in the playoffs.

The Raiders beat Dominican University of California 11-6 Friday then shut out the University of Portland on Saturday 18-0, securing the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League and a quarterfinal bye in the regional tournament.

"It's new that we have a bye in the playoffs," SOU coach Mike Brown. "Another first in a year of many."

Brown was recruited by the team in 2005, a year of practice and scrimmages he said. Now, just four years later, the Raiders are at the top of the conference and ranked No. 9 nationally in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association, another first for the team.

The program is developing and the success of SOU this season led to its first possible recruit prospect, although attracting talent will be difficult because the closest youth program is in Roseburg, says Brown.

"Coaching lacrosse is really stressful sometimes," said Brown, who played collegiate lacrosse at Virginia Tech and always knew he wanted to live on the west coast, moving here after visiting friends in the Rogue Valley during a tour of Oregon.

"We've got a really, really good coach," said Lawrence 'Bubba' VanEgdon, team captain. "Since he has come to the team we have excelled."

Brown is enjoying his time in Oregon and with the Raiders as the team continues to excel and reach for a national championship.

The team's motivation is plainly displayed before each game, when a moment of silence honors former teammate, SOU student and wild-land firefighter Scott Charlson.

"It helps us focus on what we need to do," Brown said. "We have the best team chemistry we have ever had this year. The guys act as a family in lacrosse and out, they are like brothers and that's what you need."

"I think he'd be really proud of us, he was so part of this team," said Van Egdon of Charlson. "Everything has really brought us together."

Eight players scored Saturday. Alex White and Wyatt Knight had four goals each with Tyler Baumann and Forrest Brooks adding three apiece. The Raiders had ten assist on the 18 goals.

Goalie Zach Baumann held the frustrated Pilots scoreless with six saves while the physical play limited Portland's good looks on goal for the Raiders' first shutout this season.

"They are executing the offense really well," Brown said. "They are not being selfish and just taking what the defense gives them."

Southern Oregon plays Willamette this Saturday in Salem, but the game will not change the Raiders' tournament rank. SOU holds the tie-breaker against No. 2 Western Oregon University.

"It is just a poll, it doesn't mean much to me anyway. It is cool to see that you're ranked high but you still got to get it done," VanEgdon said.

For the first time in team history SOU finished the regular season undefeated at home and is 3-0 in the conference, with an overall record of 12-1. The Raiders' 2009 playoff opener will be May 2 in Tacoma, Wash.

A win there would secure for SOU another first — a ride to the PNCLL semifinals.

"The season has gone really fast," said VanEgdon.

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