The highest rung

During a wet and frigid halftime of a football game at PGE Park on Saturday, the Portland State Lacrosse Club showcased their skills in a crosstown scrimmage against University of Portland.

During a wet and frigid halftime of a football game at PGE Park on Saturday, the Portland State Lacrosse Club showcased their skills in a crosstown scrimmage against University of Portland.

In what equated to roughly one-quarter of regulation lacrosse play, the Vikings came out on top, 2-0, thanks to a sharp-looking offense and a swarming defense.

According to club founder and player James Taylor, the defense will be a valuable weapon for the Vikings when the season opens in February.

“We have one defender that is…6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5. He’s a huge kid—lots of talent. Next to him you have a guy that’s…just a pickpocket, a thief,” Taylor said. “We have an All-State defender next to him. Our defense is insanely good.”

Not to be outdone in an opportunity to show the Viking-faithful the team’s talent, the Viking offense scored two quick points—one within the first five minutes of play and another with halftime drawing to a close.

The first came courtesy of Keith Jane, and he assisted on the second to returning player and midfielder Ryan Heider.

“Our attack has gotten exponentially better than it was last year,” Taylor said.

The improvements have come with good reason, as this season marks the team’s second year in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League, which is part of the larger Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association. The teams in the league play at an elite level, and the competition is some of the stiffest in the nation.

“Last year we put in an application to be a member of this league and we got in. It was a pretty tough year, the competition’s pretty stiff,” Taylor said. “Without being NCAA, we’re in the highest rung of lacrosse without being a varsity sport.”

Like several other of the Portland State Rec Clubs, it seems the Lacrosse Club is redefining what club sports are capable of accomplishing. This year, the club went to local high schools to recruit new players—and, in their own right, are becoming a potential draw for students to attend Portland State.

Members of the coaching staff, players and administrators of the club went to local games to not only scout the players, but to recruit them to join Portland State. A big reason for the recruitment process was due to Oregon State and University of Oregon being the only lacrosse options in the state.

“With as much competition as there is in our league and within the area, we decided it would be a good thing to at least get the word out that we’re there,” Taylor said. “We tried to hand-pick some of our players. We have three All-State players, one All-American…we’re trying to build something that’s a community of excellence.”

Taylor said the issue with such a narrow draw was that first-year players would go to OSU or U of O and languish on the bench as the rosters would swell to accommodate the incoming talent.

“If you graduated high school and wanted to stay local, that was it. You faced going down and being on a roster with 80 people. So, there were a lot of talented young men that were going to go to these schools and needed playing time, that wanted playing time…and would probably be redshirted until their second or third year,” he said.

Not only is the club drawing from a pool of local talent, but according to Taylor, the team has also received inquiries from as far south as Pasadena, Calif., and, the team already has players from California, Washington and Idaho.

“We’re becoming a draw for our school. That’s part of the reason I think we got a very good budget, because we’re bringing students to the university…it’s something we’re very proud of,” Taylor said.

With the recent demise of Portland’s professional lacrosse team, the Lumberjax, the club has come about at a good time to become ingratiated within the community. This year, Taylor is hoping that the club will expand and become more visible within the community at-large.

“We’re going to start getting youth groups, like local youth lacrosse programs to watch,” he said. “I think we’ll be at maximum capacity this season, as far as where we can put people [to watch].”

The Lacrosse Club is proving, along with a litany of other Portland State clubs, that teams built from the ground up can succeed and flourish in the university setting.

“The Rec Clubs, as we look around, we see one club doing this and another club doing this. Again, [we’re] building a community of excellence,” said Taylor.

The Lacrosse Club will play its last fall scrimmage against Western Oregon on Nov. 21 at the Stott Community Field.