Lake Oswego girls lacrosse powers past West Linn 13-8
The Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team opened the 2019 OGLA state playoffs in an unfamiliar position.
The Lakers, winners of the past three Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association state championships, are seeded just third for the playoffs, trailing both No. 1 Lincoln and second-seeded Oregon Episcopal School.
Despite that, Lake Oswego is convinced that it can — and will — end up on top once again.
The Lakers proved as much in their playoff opener, rolling past Three Rivers League foe West Linn 13-8 in the state quarterfinals at Lake Oswego High School on Friday, May 17.
The win gave the Lakers a second straight win over the Lions after West Linn snapped LO's 50-game in-state winning streak back on April 23.
"I'm excited. It means a lot," said Lake Oswego senior defender Taylor Anders, who helped limit the Lions to just 10 shots on goal in the game. "The game was chippy — we both wanted it — but I think what really made the difference was we kept our composure."
"This is a big deal," added LO senior defender Taylor Hamper. "I think we definitely felt prepared, just like last time we played West Linn. We had that same mentality, a chip on our shoulders, going into both games and I think it helped us."
With the win — the Lakers' seventh straight — Lake Oswego improved to 17-3 overall after previously winning the TRL title. Sixth-seeded West Linn, meanwhile, saw its four-game winning streak snapped and ended its season at 14-6 after finishing second in the TRL.
"I think we played our hearts out and we really collaborated as a team," said West Linn sophomore midfielder McKenna Kelly, who scored once, collected four ground balls, won four draw controls and caused two turnovers. "I just think in the end, we couldn't pull through."
"They were very sharp," added West Linn senior attack Ragen Finklea, who scored twice and won three draw controls. "I think one thing we could have cleaned up was possessing the ball a little bit longer, taking our time, working the ball around more, just grinding it out. I think we were a little panicked at times, but it's a high-stakes game. It happens."
The Lions jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on scores by Finklea and Kelly, but the Lakers came back strong with five straight goals after that, pushing ahead 5-2 on a breakaway by Kate Anders with 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the half. LO's other goals in that stretch came from Katie Freeman, Katy Gilbert, Peyton Ivey and Rylee Sutherland.
"That was all credit to the defense," said Freeman, who led her team with four goals. "Our defense is so strong and they always come out strong. We might mess it up on the attack sometimes, but the defense is always there. It's all credit to the defense."
The Lions edged back within 5-3 on a Finklea goal, but the Lakers answered with two scores in the final 46 seconds of the opening half to push ahead 7-3, the first on a free possession goal by Gilbert and the second on a high left-handed shot by Kate Anders with just three seconds to go before the half.
The Lions fought back again in the opening five minutes of the second half, cutting the Laker lead to 8-5 on goals from Anna Klose and Claire Matthiessen, but West Linn would get no closer.
The Lakers outscored the Lions 5-3 over the game's final 19:45 to pull away, getting two scores each from Freeman and Zoe Ziegler and another by Sutherland to ice their victory.
"After the first West Linn game, we all got on the same page and I think that's really been reflected in our practices and it's showed in the past two West Linn games," Hamper said. "I think this team, compared to last year, has a lot of young players so it just took us a little longer to come together, but everything's finally clicking and we're just going to keep moving forward."
For their part, the Lions were disappointed with the loss but proud of their efforts and their season.
"Our team is a team that's never going to stop pushing," Kelly said. "No matter what the clock says, we're always going to just keep working as hard as we can."
"I think we kept a fire in our bellies and we kept pushing and pushing, and even though we didn't get the result we wanted, I'm so happy and proud to be part of this team," Finklea said. "I appreciate these girls so much and I'm so excited for what they'll do next year."
For the game, Freeman scored four times and Kate Anders, Gilbert, Ziegler and Sutherland connected twice each. Gilbert picked up four ground balls and McKinley Mullen three, while Gilbert won five draw controls and Ivey four. For West Linn, Deering and Finklea scored twice each, McKenna and Matthiessen had four ground balls each, McKenna won four draw controls and Finklea and Matthiessen three each.