West Linn girls lacrosse ready to challenge TRL's best
The West Linn girls lacrosse team was one of the state's best in 2017.
The Lions battled their way into the Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association state quarterfinals and barely lost there to district rival Wilsonville.
West Linn is aiming for more of the same in 2018, but knows just how steep that challenge is in a league that includes 2017 state champion Lake Oswego, Wilsonville and additional 2017 quarterfinalists St. Mary's and Tualatin.
"The TRL is again the best in the state and it will be a dogfight," said West Linn coach Ben Finklea, whose team placed third in the 2017 league race. "That said, I think we have a fairly complete team from top to bottom and I believe we can give (Lake Oswego) a run for the money if we play to our potential."
This year's West Linn team will be led by junior Ragen Finklea at attack (she was both first-team all-Three Rivers League and first-team all-state last year), junior goalkeeper Riley Drullinger (a transfer from Clackamas), senior McKenzie Hill at midfield, sophomore Claire Matthiessen at midfield (after she returns from a broken thumb), and junior Anna Klose at attack.
"We fully expect another all-state season from (Ragen Finklea)," Ben Finklea said, adding that Drullinger (a University of California commit who attends La Salle) "is one of the top goalies in the state. Riley is a great addition to the squad and cements that vital position for us and comes with a tremendous amount of leadership and respect from our team."
Hill, meanwhile, is a team captain who moves up from defense, while Matthiessen should be much improved after starting as a freshman.
"(Hill) is about as complete a player as we have and comes with above-average stick skills and lacrosse IQ. She is a coach's dream to have lead the troops on the field," Ben Finklea said, adding that "no kid worked harder (than Matthiessen) at getting better in the offseason and it shows."
Klose is back and expected to be one of the team's leading scorers after battling a hip injury all of 2017. Also ready for solid roles this year are sophomores Carey Stell and Emma Deering (they return after starting as freshman at attack and in the midfield) and freshman McKenna Kelly, one of two to make the varsity team.
"(I'm) not sure we have had someone with her level of speed since Natalie Byrne," Ben Finklea said of Kelly.
The rest of the varsity lineup includes: sophomore goalie Vanessa Vatukoula; senior attack Liz Lofurno; freshman defender Abby Peterson; sophomore defender Rosie Larsen; sophomore defender Carmel Corrigan; senior defender Abby Gross; junior attack Nicole Lang; sophomore defender Grace Jackson; freshman midfielder McKenna Kelly; senior defender Abby Manley; sophomore midfielder Callie Blanchard; sophomore defender Grace Wensum; junior attack Maddie Self; and senior defender Aubree Schrandt.
As to the coming 2018 TRL league race, Ben Finklea said he expects Lake Oswego and Wilsonville to again be two of the best teams in the state.
"Until one of us is able to knock LO off the throne, we are all playing for second place," he added.