The Lake Oswego girls soccer team is right where it wants to be.
The Lakers, second-ranked in the state and already Three Rivers League champions, have hit their stride in the Class 6A state playoffs, adding their second straight win on Tuesday, Nov. 2, when they shut out South Medford 4-0 at Lake Oswego High School.
"I think we definitely came in with a lot better mindset to this game," said Lake Oswego senior defender and team captain Karoline Shipton. "I think the first game of the playoffs there were a little bit of nerves and that showed, but I think we came out ready this time and we won."
"I think today we were able to play our game a lot better, the way we wanted to play," added Laker senior forward and team captain Lauren DeGroot, who scored once against the Panthers. "I think we came in with a better mindset where each game where progressing, we're getting better, we're learning from each game, taking away experience and we're just gaining momentum."
With the win — the team's seventh straight — the second-ranked Lakers improved to 14-0-2 and stretched their season-long unbeaten streak to 16 games. No. 18 South Medford, meanwhile, saw its four-game winning streak snapped and ended its season at 9-4-1 after finishing second in the Southwest Conference.
The Lakers hit the ground running on Tuesday, getting their first goal just 4 minutes, 19 seconds into the contest, when senior forward Rylee Winn scored out of a crowd of players from point-blank range on the right side.
While Lake Oswego wouldn't score again for more than half an hour, it wasn't for lack of opportunity. The Lakers racked up six shots on goal and six corner kicks in the first half, and finally broke through to make it 2-0 when sophomore defender Alix Shipton made a run down the right sideline, then crossed the ball to sophomore Anjali Cherian at the near post, to make the score with 2:56 left in the half.
Lake Oswego extended its lead to 3-0 in the second half when DeGroot followed up a shot by freshman Julia Joseph and headed home a goal on the left side in the 58th minute. The Lakers capped their day when junior midfielder Megan Ko converted a 30-yard free kick to the top right corner of the Panthers' goal with 12:25 left in the contest.
"Our offense, for sure, took a while to get back into rhythm," said DeGroot, recently returned to the Laker lineup recently following knee surgery. "It started with the defense and that built the foundation of it, and from there, we really built up into better offense."
"We are definitely way more bonded this year than we have been in the past, and I think part of that also comes down to (the fact that head coach Foday Kabba) has been with us all four years — I'm a senior and he's been there coaching for me the whole way," Karoline Shipton said. "I think now, we know how we want to play. We've practiced it over and over and over again and that's also strengthened our bond."
Next up, the Lakers will host No. 7 Sunset — 11-4-1 after finishing second in the Metro League — in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.
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