BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — Since starting its boys lacrosse program in 2006, Lake Orion has reached many benchmarks in a short period of time.
The Dragons added a couple of more to their belt in the past week.
Lake Orion put the finishing touches on its second straight OAA White Division and then followed that up with a first-round victory in the Division 1 state tournament. It marked the Dragons second straight league title and also their first-ever state tournament win.
“That was something that we have not been able to do, which is to win the first state playoff game,” said second-year coach Brad Thomas. “After we lost our opener last season (to Davison 10-7), one of the goals was to win at least one playoff game this season. We accomplished that. Another goal was to win the league title again and we did that. We’ve had a very good season so far.”
Lake Orion, which is a school record 14-4-0 on the season and finished 6-0-0 in league play, upended Waterford Unified 10-1 in its pre-regional contest at home Monday. As a varsity club, the Dragons did not enter the postseason in 2006 and 2007 and were 0-4 in pre-regional games until this season, falling to Walled Lake Northern (2008), Waterford Unified (2009), Walled Lake Northern (2010) and Davison (2011) in first-round games.
Monday’s win was just another signal of this young program maturing. In that contest, Brad Bogus finished with three goals and two assists to lead the way. Sean Raymor added two goals and an assist, Nick Booker found the back of the net twice with an assist, Damion Wilbon had a goal and nine ground balls defensively and both Kyle Pillivant and Jake Berkel also scored for the Dragons.
“I think the one area where we have come a long way from since the beginning of the season is defense,” noted Thomas. “We have a good offense, but we had a new goalie this season and some new defensemen. They have improved.”
Devin Fulcher made five saves against Waterford.
The Dragons had to wait until Saturday night, the final night of the regular season, to put the finishing touches on its second straight OAA white Division championship. Lake Orion routed upstart Oxford, one of two new additions to the OAA-White this season along with Auburn Hills Avondale, by a 10-1 count. The game was washed out due to a vicious storm that hit the area two weeks earlier.
The wait was worth it.
Booker twined four goals with an assist to pace the Dragons. Bogus followed with two goals and two assists, Ian Schlitt finished with three goals and Berkel added two goals and an assist for Lake Orion.
Fulcher only had to register one save for the win between the pipes, while Nick Knitter led the defensive lockdown with seven ground balls.
Lake Orion, the sixth seed in its 12-team regional, visits Midland Wednesday night in a D-1 regional second-round contest — some new territory for the Dragons. A win there will likely earn Lake Orion a date with Michigan’s premier lacrosse program, Birmingham Brother Rice, in the regional semifinal next Tuesday.
“We’re going to have to play the top teams in the state to get better, said Thomas, who like many coaches in the area, is trying to develop middle school and club lacrosse in the area to further carve the sport its own niche in Michigan. “We know that Midland is very athletic, which will be a good test for us. And we know how good some of the other teams are (still left) in our region. Brother Rice is always the best team in the state and Clarkston and Brighton are on the other half and those teams are very good this year. We have our work cut out for us.”
It’s all one bench mark at a time.
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