The West Linn girls soccer team knew there would be tests this year.
They knew there would be bumps in the road.
The Lions hit one of those bumps on Tuesday, falling behind Central Catholic by three goals early in the second half, rallying with a pair of their own scores, then finally falling 3-2 at Delta Park's Strasser Field.
"In the first half, we were a lot slower, we were frantic and we were just kicking the ball up and couldn't keep it down," said senior midfielder/forward Lauren Adelman. "In the second half, we had a lot more energy and we pressed a lot harder and I think that helped a lot."
"We came out way too slow the first half, but in the second half, we picked it up a lot more and we definitely had more possession," said junior defender Rae Peters.
"We got unlucky a couple of times, but we'll take that one on the chin and move on," said West Linn's first-year coach Lauren Pyrch. "But we dominated possession in the second half and everything else."
The loss was West Linn's first setback of the young 2017 season and dropped its overall record to 2-1-0, while Central Catholic — a 2016 Class 6A state quarterfinalist — moved to 1-1-1.
While West Linn started slowly on Tuesday, the Rams did not, taking advantage of their chances to score twice in the first 28 minutes of the opening half. Central Catholic's Payton Shaffer notched the first of those two goals, taking a through ball from teammate Maddie Cooper and slotting her shot to the near-post for a 1-0 edge.
The Rams were back in goal again with 12 minutes remaining in the half when Clara Boime pushed the ball up the right seam on a counter attack, turned toward goal on the right baseline, then passed to Shaffer for the finish at the near post and a 2-0 lead.
On their end, the Lions just didn't create a lot in the way of offensive opportunities in the opening half.
"The first half, we just came out a little too slow," said senior defender Grace Gabler. "We've definitely got to work harder."
The Rams added one more to their advantage early in the second half when they played a pass through the middle of the field and past the West Linn defense to Cori Duran. She took one touch to her left to outflank charging Lions' keeper Alyx Burkhartzmeyer, then left-footed a shot into the open net for a 3-0 lead.
Suitably awakened, the Lions began to take control of the match after that, dominated possession the rest of the half and finally got on the scoreboard midway through the second half. Gabler started that scoring play with a corner kick from the right side that flew over the main crowd of players in front of the Rams' goal and took a high bounce that West Linn sophomore Rosie Larsen finished at the far post to make it 3-1.
The Lions cut their deficit to a single goal 10 minutes later when Larsen — chasing down a long pass in the left side of the Central Catholic penalty box — was fouled by Rams' keeper Morgan Maxwell and the Lions were awarded a penalty kick.
Adelman did the honors there, driving her PK into the right side of the net to make it 3-2 as Maxwell guessed incorrectly and dove to the left.
West Linn kept the pressure on the rest of the way and kept the ball almost exclusively on the Central Catholic half of the field but could not get the equalizer.
"We needed to get that win. Unfortunately, we couldn't … but I think we have potential," Gabler said. "The second half, we came out a lot stronger — we've got to carry that through the whole 80 minutes."
"We just need to make sure we play like we want it more every game and always — even if our touches aren't on or we can't put the ball away — always playing harder than the other team and leaving everything we have out on the field," Peters said.
"I knew it was going to be a good test and it was," Pyrch said. "We'll move on from today and work on it tomorrow."
Despite that, Tuesday's loss did nothing to lower the Lions' hopes for the coming 2017 Three Rivers League season.
"I think for sure we can win league," Adelman said. "As long as we work hard the whole game and continue playing hard in practice, we should be able to do it."