Lakeridge plays even with the Lions but falls 6-5 on the road

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - John Finegan had a pair of assists for the Lakeridge boys lacrosse team in its game against West Linn last week. The Pacers fell 6-5 but are still ranked No. 3 in the state. After West Linn and Lakeridge's boys lacrosse teams battled it out in two contests spaced less than two weeks apart, one thing was clear when the dust settled. Very little, if anything, separates the two powerhouses in terms of talent this year.

It would be difficult to find two teams more evenly matched or more familiar with one another than the Pacers and Lions.

All of that is probably little consolation to Lakeridge, however, as the Pacers dropped their second one-goal game of the season Tuesday, 6-5 on the road at West Linn.

Neither team ever held more than a two-goal advantage at any time and, during the two occasions when one team did get that breathing room, the opposition scored less than two minutes later to tighten the contest again.

The Pacers were clearly fired up heading into the contest and were eager to pay the Lions a modicum of revenge following a loss on their home field a week-and-a-half earlier.

After both teams settled in following an early rash of turnovers, Lakeridge got on the board first. Michael Ashworth was an early target for the Pacers and he scored the first goal of the game with 4:35 left in the first quarter.

A little more than one minute later, Ashworth scored again after receiving a pretty feed from John Finegan.

But West Linn was quick to answer. Thirty seconds later, the Lions broke through the Pacer defense to pick up their first goal of the game.

Lakeridge received a penalty early in the second quarter and West Linn converted into a goal a minute into the period to tie the game at 2-2.

But the remainder of the quarter was a defensive showdown. Lakeridge goalie Jared Baumann had a pair of difficult saves but, for the most part, the Pacer defense didn't yield a lot of chances for the Lions.

West Linn's physical defense was equally as stingy and despite good patience on offense, Lakeridge couldn't break through.

Lakeridge regained the advantage early in the third quarter on a nice shot by Holden Catlett. That set off a back-and-forth period with each team finally having a little success on offense.

West Linn tied the game up again two minutes later and Lakeridge had an answer shortly after on JR McLaughlin's score from close range after another feed from Finegan.

West Linn would tie the game with 4:38 in the quarter and the game would remain at 4-4 heading into the final period.

Lakeridge hurt itself with penalties early in the fourth quarter but the Pacer defense continued to shine, killing off a pair of man-up opportunities for the Lions.

However, West Linn grabbed its first lead of the game with 5:17 left in the game. Then, following another penalty, the Lions were finally able to convert and led 6-4 with 4:36 to play.

Lakeridge was able to regain possession and, with 3:16 left in the game, Cam Troike scored a crucial goal to get the Pacers right back in the game.

West Linn would create a turnover and killed the clock down the stretch but Catlett came up with a crucial steal and cleared the ball, allowing Lakeridge to eventually call time-out with eight seconds remaining in regulation.

The Pacers set up a final play and got off a clean shot, but it was saved as the buzzer sounded and the Lions held on for the win.

Lakeridge remains ranked No. 3 in the state behind West Linn and OES and has three games remaining in the regular season, starting with Lake Oswego tonight (Thursday).

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