(From Lake Oswego Review Article) It’s no secret that Lakeridge High School has established itself as having one of the most elite lacrosse programs in the state if not the entire West Coast.
The Pacers are perennial contenders for a state title and at the helm of that success has been coach Curt Sheinin.
Sheinin is the winningest coach in the history of Oregon boys lacrosse and has helped transform scores of good athletes into tremendously skilled lacrosse players over the years.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Southern California.
The relatively small university in Orange, Calif. has become one of the top men’s lacrosse programs in the nation, reaching the MCLA national championship game for two seasons in a row.
But if you happened to watch the national title game in which Chapman fell 12-11 to Michigan in an extraordinarily well-played and exciting contest, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a Lakeridge alumni game.
Chapman’s lacrosse program has been home to a veritable who’s who of some of the best players to have ever donned a Lakeridge uniform.
“It’s fun to watch. I go down to see them when I can,” Sheinin said.
On last season’s roster, there were five former Pacers, Nate Beres, Spenser Halvorsen, Connor Martin, Andrew Clayton and Michael Clayton.
Beres missed virtually all of last season after tearing his ACL early in the year but the other four Lakeridge graduates were not only strong contributors to the team, they were out and out stars.
So how exactly has Chapman formed such an impressive pipeline into Oregon and, specifically, directly into Lakeridge High School?
The answer is pretty simple. Curt Sheinin’s son, Rick, also a former player for Lakeridge and a graduate from Chapman, is the offensive coordinator for the Panthers and he has helped make the university a desired destination for his father’s former players.
It’s not exactly a hard sell.
After all, Chapman has one of the best lacrosse programs on the entire West Coast. It would be extremely difficult to find a comparable program anywhere west of the Mississippi.
“It’s pretty attractive to players up here. In the MCLA, unlike the NCAA, the power is in the West and so it’s a nice alternative,” Curt Sheinin said.
So for elite players in the Northwest who don’t feel like moving to the East Coast, Chapman is an ideal program.
And Rick certainly has an inside edge at reeling in Lakeridge’s top talent.
In short, it has been a near perfect marriage between the two programs.
Lakeridge players, as well as others around Oregon, get the opportunity to play elite caliber lacrosse without straying too far from home and Chapman benefits by contending for national title year in and year out.
“There is definitely an impressive talent pool in Oregon,” Curt Sheinin said.
Chapman only lost three games all last year, two to Michigan (including one in the national title game) and one to BYU which it later avenged in the postseason.
Michael Clayton entered his senior season in the spring as the preseason National Player of the Year. In many ways, Clayton started the trend of Pacers choosing Chapman to play collegiately.
But Clayton battled an ankle injury throughout the year. That opened the door for teammate Connor Martin, who led the team with 51 goals and 31 assists and would go on to win national player of the year.
In this year’s national championship tournament, Lakeridge’s talent was on full display.
Halvorsen was a force as one of the tournament’s top defenders.
Meanwhile, it seemed like virtually every crucial play in a key situation was turned in by a former Lakeridge player.
In the quarterfinals against Simon Fraser, Andrew Clayton had the assist on the game-winning goal. He would then go on to score the game-winner in the team’s semifinal victory over BYU.
And, in the finals, Lakeridge players scored nine of the team’s 11 goals.
Michael Clayton will be gone next year but the other four Pacers will be back on a team that should, once again, be one of the best in the country.
And those players may have a fresh new group of teammates with Oregon roots as Chapman continues to bolster its reputation.