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The City Journals

Highland boys lacrosse shakes off losses, advances in playoffs

Jul 03, 2019 03:12PM

Senior Highland boys lacrosse player Zac Tobler (in black) makes his way through the defense.  (Photo courtesy of Jen Tobler)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected] 

The Highland Rams picked the right time to play some of its best lacrosse of the season.

The boys team reached the Class C state semifinals this past spring, coming up one game short of a chance to play for a title. Highland fell to eventual runner-up Waterford in a close 10-8 contest. 

Considering the team posted a 3-13 regular record, the Rams may not have appeared like a championship-contending team in Class C. 

Highland won its season opener over West Jordan on March 12 by the score of 16-6 but then proceeded to drop 10 games in a row. There were some close calls during the rough stretch, but the Rams were also on the wrong end of some blowouts. They finally got back on the winning track with a 12-6 win over Riverton on April 24. Senior Gage Varanakis tallied four goals and three assists in the victory, while junior Eric Greene added three goals of his own. Freshman Briggs Ballard contributed two goals and two assists. 

The Rams closed out the regular season with three losses in four games. The sole win was a close 9-8 triumph over Jordan on April 26. Ballard, Greene and Varanakis each scored twice. 

However, with a mark of 10 games below .500, Highland wasn’t exactly on fire once it got to state. 

That started to change.

On May 8, Highland hosted West Jordan in the first-round of the playoffs. In similar fashion to its season-opening victory over the Jaguars, the Rams poured it on, winning 20-9. Greene and Ballard had sensational games, as both players lit up the scoreboard with six goals. Cameron Piper had two goals and two assists. 

In the quarterfinals, Highland hosted Wasatch and prevailed in a tense 10-9 contest. Six Rams found the back of the net, led by Greene, who had three goals. Varanakis, Piper and Briggs each had two, and the latter had two assists as well. 

The first two-game winning streak of the season put Highland in the semifinals on May 16, one game away from a chance to play for the championship. Waterford had gotten the better of the Rams on April 25 by the score of 13-6. Things were closer this time around, but Highland didn’t have quite enough in the tank.

There is optimism in the program for next season, though. Not only does Highland begin play in the newly sanctioned lacrosse league, but it also has some talent and experience on the roster. Greene and Briggs both come back, and they were second and third, respectively, in goals scored with 24 and 22. Briggs also paced the team with 16 assists. Highland will miss Varanakis, who had a team-high 33 goals. 

Goalie Lincoln Robison will be back as a junior in 2020. He took a high number of shots on goal (406) but had a respectable 54.6 percent save percentage.