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Lakers' playoff win sends the team into Friday quarterfinals against Jesuit at LOHS

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Lake Oswego junior defender Connor Willihnganz works against a Liberty player during the Lakers' 18-6 playoff win at Lake Oswego High School on Tuesday, May 21.The Lake Oswego boys lacrosse team was ready.

The fourth-seeded Lakers proved it on Tuesday, May 21, when they rolled past Liberty 18-6 in their Oregon High School Lacrosse Association second-round playoff game at Lake Oswego High School.

The Lakers used a fast and furious attack to jump on Liberty early, getting six goals in the game's first five minutes, taking a 13-2 lead into the halftime break, then cruising to victory with a group of backups over the game's final quarter.

On paper, the Lakers were supposed to win the game, but Lake Oswego head coach Rick Gruen said he and a number of his guys learned firsthand a couple years ago what can happen if you take a team for granted, and that wasn't going to happen to this team, on this night.

"We learned two years ago after losing in the second round to Central Catholic that you can't take things for granted, and we didn't take this game for granted," Lake Oswego coach Rick Gruen said. "Liberty had nothing to lose and we knew they'd come out firing. They knocked off Glencoe and (Liberty coach Paul Lardy) always has them ready to go."

"Their individual skill and the speed at which they are able to move the ball is awfully tough to defend," Lardy said.

With the win — the Lakers' seventh straight — Three Rivers League champion Lake Oswego improved to 13-4 overall and advances to play Metro League runner-up Jesuit (14-3) in the state quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday, May 24, at Lake Oswego High. Gruen knows they'll have their hands full.

"We lost to them in overtime early in the year so it'll be a battle and it's two pretty good teams," he said. "It's never easy."

No. 20 Liberty, meanwhile, ended its year with a 10-6 overall record after placing second in the Pacific Conference.

The Lakers got on the board first when junior Marshall McGuire netted the game's first shot less than a minute into the game. Liberty responded almost exactly a minute later when senior Isaac Tsolak tied the game on a wrap-around with 10 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Falcons, however, that would be the end of their scoring for quite some time, while the Lakers were just getting started.

Standout senior Jonas Hunter scored four straight goals over the next 2 1/2 minutes, and when the University of Vermont-bound attacker scored again on a rebound to end the first quarter, the Lakers led 9-1 and the game was, for the most part, over.

Hunter ended with eight goals and was aided by Ryan DeRaeve's three goals, along with two apiece by McGuire and junior midfielder Charlie Ryan. Gruen lauded Hunter's play and noted the importance of both he and McGuire's contribution to the team.

"Those two are the heart and soul of our team," the coach said. "Jonas is our grinder. He comes out and works hard, and we kind of go how Jonas and Marshall go."

Despite trailing 13-2 at the half and 16-2 midway through the third quarter, Liberty didn't go away in the second half, getting four goals from seniors Ethan Moody and Lucas Maki, junior Owen Engbretson and another from Tsolak to end the game, showing the fight Lardy has come to expect from this year's team.

"Our guys have been willing to compete throughout the year," Lardy said. "We have had times we were down and needed to battle back, and had several games decided by a goal. Those games teach your players to keep playing."

Hunter and McGuire added two assists each, Mike Shakerin won 19 faceoffs and grabbed seven ground balls, and goalie George O'Brien made five saves.

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