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  • Annelise Mason, Staff Writer

Lacrosse has never defeated the Bruins. Can they make it happen in May?

Willamette lacrosse team. Courtesy of Willamette athletics.

Lacrosse entered the Willamette sports scene five years ago. For the past four seasons, they have had two consistencies in their performance: they place second in the Northwest Conference and they can’t seem to defeat George Fox. In the two sides’ most recent meeting, the ‘Cats led the Bruins 10-8 in the fourth quarter but still failed to get the result. Moving now into the Northwest Conference tournament, a clash between the league leaders seems likely. Lacrosse may once again take second place behind George Fox, or make history. 

Jay Shiflett (‘27), a defensive player on the lacrosse team, shared that the rivalry between the two schools has been friendly this season. However, going into conference games Willamette and George Fox always create a big conversation. Will the Bearcats finally defeat the Bruins? 

The rivalry began in 2018 when George Fox beat Willamette in their first-ever conference game 20-1, starting their rivalry with an average of 11 point differential each game. However, the Bearcats achieved their best differential to date (three goals) at their recent April meeting.

Now, Willamette lacrosse is sitting at the No. 2 spot in the conference after suffering only three losses throughout their season: two against George Fox and one against Hope College. The ‘Cats were undefeated and had a +98 goal differential for the five games before running into the Bruins. 

After their first loss, Lacrosse had a lot to consider regarding their position in the conference. Goalkeeper Olivia Austin (‘27) found that the game against George Fox showed the team the aspects of their competition they needed to improve. “Ultimately, the game brought motivation and the team closer together,” agreed Austin and Shiflett. 

After a trip to California which resulted in two victories over Cal Lutheran and Occidental, the team found more confidence and a belief in their ability to measure up to Newberg’s immovable object. 

Prior to the championship match, however, the ‘Cats still had to face down the Whitworth Bucs, a dominant force in their own right. The 2024 season has seen Whitworth’s highest ever finish in the NWC, most wins and longest winning streak. On Sunday, April 28, the Bucs gave Willamette a run for their money, finishing the match 11-12 after trailing by four goals in the second quarter.

Furthermore, while the undefeated (36-0) George Fox’s semifinal victory over 6-6 Whitman seems like a foregone conclusion, an upset could allow the ‘Cats to bypass the conference’s most terrifying program. 

Shiflett has confidence in Willamette’s ability to move forward and end the season with a Northwest Conference championship win, citing that the team has all the talent, coaches and people needed in order to pull off a win against George Fox. 

Both Shifflet and Austin stated that the team's only tactical goal moving into the conference tournament was to shift focus from individual goals to team goals. 

Going into the conference on May 4, all eyes are on Willamette and George Fox. Is this the year George Fox loses its win streak?

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1 Comment

May 04

great story! wonderful pictures

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