By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 5/12/14
Sam Heaton said it was hard to tell what was more troublesome Saturday when he competed for the OKC Knights in the Heartland Conference championship game in Bentonville, Ark. – his broken rib or a debilitating case of the flu.
Perhaps each of his health issues helped him forget about the other. Regardless, Heaton helped his Knights rally for a 14-7 victory over Northwest Arklansas 14-7 for the Heartland.
The Heartland Conference is comprised of nine teams from Oklahoma (six), Arkansas (two) and SW Missouri (one). The conference is the essence of growth of lacrosse in the southern and midwest regions as lacrosse spreads throughout the United States.
Heaton, a senior attackman who attend Edmond North, is one of the first from Oklahoma to sign a National Letter of Intent (to Division II Lindenwood). The Knights (20-3) are a second-year club team that draw from several high schools; they were not eligible to compete in last year’s tourney.
Heaton’s efforts helped OKC dominate the last three quarters after falling behind, 6-4 in the title game. Both OKC and Northwest Arkansas also played their semifinal games before the final.
“I wasn’t going to miss my last high school game for anything,” said Heaton. “I broke my rib during the previous week’s game and spent most of this week stuck in bed with the flu.
“Let me tell you, the flu and a broken rib don’t make for the world’s best combination! The championship game was brutal and I spent all of halftime puking on the sidelines and dealing with heat strokes and other flu symptoms. The two games and humid heat added to an already tough situation.”
Senior attackman James Smith was OKC’s leading scorer with five goals. Sam Heaton said his team has played together for years and had enough depth to endure two grueling games in hot weather.
“We have all played together since we were young and we have great team chemistry, which I believe is our deciding factor,” he said. “For a senior heavy team, the young kids are really proving to be the backbone and future of the club.
“Once we got down, 6-4, we had a coming together as a team, a real gut check. We started our comeback with two quick goals to tie the game, but the momentum really changed when James Smith hit an inside behind the back shot to take the lead. At that point the game was ours from then on and we took over.”
Heaton said his team has become competitive with many top teams in the southwest region. OKC fell to Tennessee power Collierville, 7-2, and to strong Texas teams, Allen (10-6) and Frisco (11-4).
In Saturday’s title game, Jake Hobbs added a goal and three assists, Carter Kahoe scored twice, Easton Gayle had a goal and an assist and JP Morris, Brayden Givens, Chandler Peterson had a goal each. Thomas Jones won 15 of 19 face offs and Chandler Peterson won 2 of 4 draws; overall, OKC took 17 of 24 face-offs. Christian Cherry had 11 saves on 22 shots with nine coming in the second half.
Christian Cherry had 11 saves on 22 shots with 9 coming in the 2nd half
“We’ve found our success over the last two years by dominating the X and having an unstoppable offense,” Heaton said.
Heaton admitted that winning the title made him feel a lot better.
“Saturday was tough,” he said. “I was walking around the whole day feeling sick to my stomach. The first game was do-able, but come the second game the heat and flu started to take its toll.
“With the help of my teammates and coaches I was able push through and help my team walk our with a victory. I was an awesome experience.”