West Linn boys soccer battles to 0-0 tie against Clackamas
The West Linn boys soccer team didn't score a goal on Thursday night, didn't allow a goal and didn't get a win.
But that doesn't mean that the Lions didn't get a lot out of their 0-0 tie against Clackamas at West Linn High School.
Here's what West Linn did get — their best result of the year (the Lions lost their opener 2-1 to Grant), a dominating effort against a solid Clackamas team and a couple important lessons about how to improve.
"It was a good result. It's a little tough to take, but we'll bounce back from it," said junior midfielder and team captain Abdul Ali. "That's a good Clackamas squad right there."
"It's not a bad result, 0-0," said junior defender and team captain Adam Beyer, who helped the Lions' defense hold the Cavaliers to just four shots on goal. "The defense was good, but there's a lot of stuff to work on, finishing our balls as we go through — there's a long way to go from here."
While their offense has yet to really click — West Linn has scored just once in its first two games — the Lions are confident about what lies ahead.
"It's only the second game. We'll get some goals," said senior midfielder Ben Walker. "We just have to have some patience; they're coming."
With the tie, West Linn moved to 0-1-1 on the season; next up, the team will host Central Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, then play at McMinnville at 7 p.m. Sept. 14. Clackamas also moved to 0-1-1 with the tie.
After spending a few days practicing inside due to the recent smoky skies, neither team was particularly sharp at the start of Thursday's game, with West Linn's Sean Beuckens and Clackamas' Jack Warner each getting a single shot on goal in the first 11 minutes.
But the Lions began to click in the final 24 minutes of the half, generating five corner kicks and a handful of shots, including two dangerous attempts. On the first those, a West Linn shot rebounded out in front of the Clackamas goal to Caetano Vega and his hard shot from 10 yards away forced Cavs' keeper Hunter Johnson to make a diving save with six minutes left in the opening half.
The second of those solid West Linn scoring chances came two minutes later when Beuckens' shot from just inside the penalty box forced another diving Johnson stop at the left post.
The Lions carried that momentum into the second half and got their first solid scoring opportunity with 26 minutes remaining when Ali worked past several defenders for a strong shot from the left side that Johnson stopped.
Clackamas' best chance to score came with 14 minutes left to play when Keanu Cano played a through ball to Jack Kelly in the center of the field and brought West Linn keeper Eli Wall out of goal to smother Kelly's shot and preserve the 0-0 tie.
The Lions' last chance to grab victory came after Ali made a steal 10 yards outside the Cavaliers penalty box on the right side of the field with eight minutes left to play. Ali raced toward the goal, then passed to his left where Beuckens' 10-yard shot from the right side was stopped again by Johnson.
"It's tough when you have to practice inside and don't get out on the big field for two days in a row, (but) the goals will come," Ali said.
"We had a good amount of possession in our half (of the field), pushing on the goal, but the goalie just came up with some great saves," Walker said.
In addition to playing well in the tie, the Lions said they learned some lessons that will help them in games to come.
"We've got to work on our communication, we've got to rotate and find out shape a little more in the back instead of just kicking it, but it's definitely starting to come together," Beyer said. "We're still missing one or two key players — Brian Chapman and another one of our players was out tonight — but once we get all those pieces back clicking together, I think we'll have a real chance to be a good competitor."