Lakeridge boys lacrosse ousts West Linn 7-6 in overtime semifinal
It could not have been closer.
It could not have been more exciting.
And it could not have meant more.
In this case, "it" was the OHSLA state semifinal between the Lakeridge and West Linn boys lacrosse teams — held Wednesday, June 1, at Wilsonville High School — a game the Lions forced into overtime before seeing the Pacers escape with a thrilling 7-6 victory and a state title game berth.
After seeing his team's three-goal fourth-quarter lead erased, Lakeridge junior Gavin Sheehan — he scored the winning goal in overtime — admitted to feeling some nerves coming down the stretch.
"It was nerve-racking, but I knew if we kept playing as a team, we would come out on top," he said.
With the win, the team's 16th straight, Lakeridge improved to 21-2 overall after winning the Three Rivers League. Next up, the second-seeded Pacers will face top-seeded Jesuit in the state championship at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Wilsonville.
Sheehan said he believes it will take a top-notch effort to beat Jesuit, a 24-5 victor over Lake Oswego in its semifinal. The Crusaders are 21-1 overall after winning the Metro League.
"It is going to take composure and focusing on the next play to take the Crusaders down," Sheehan said.
West Linn, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 14-7 overall after finishing fourth in the TRL. Despite their season-ending defeat, the Lions said they were proud of their efforts.
"We kind of found the spark late in the second half, and it was great to end the season like that even though we didn't get the result we wanted," said West Linn senior attack Aaron McCoy, who led all scorers with four goals and added four ground balls.
"Coming into this game, a lot of people thought we wouldn't even be in this game so that was our entire mindset coming in," added senior midfielder Cooper Berggren, who finished with four ground balls and stepped up to win four of six faceoffs in the fourth quarter. "We said 'We're here for a reason. We're here because we deserve it.' So we kept that mentality the whole time and we just kept fighting the whole four quarters."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that saw Sheehan score twice to help Lakeridge carry a 4-2 lead into the break, while McCoy hit twice to keep West Linn team close.
But the Pacers edged ahead 5-2 in the third quarter and seemed to be in control. Lakeridge attack Paul Williams did the honors there, scoring the only goal of the period on a 12-yard shot with 9:26 remaining in the period.
But West Linn was not done. The Lions started the fourth quarter strong, scoring three unanswered goals to tie the contest at 5-5. McCoy scored the first of those, sophomore Gage Hurych hit a driving shot that ricocheted in off the right post for the second and junior Bodie LaForce tied the game on a diving shot with 5:04 left on the clock.
The Pacers pushed back ahead 6-5 when Ethan Bernhardt took a pass from Williams and hit a turnaround shot from seven yards with 2:09 remaining in the game.
Lakeridge senior Jake Reichle won the ensuing faceoff and it appeared the Pacers would run out the clock, but the Lions just kept coming and forced a turnover with a minute remaining to play.
McCoy missed two shots as the clock wound down, but didn't miss his third. He powered his way out from behind the Pacer goal on the left side and forced home a short shot to tie the score 6-6 with just three seconds remaining.
But as thrilling as the West Linn comeback had been, Lakeridge ended the game just 35 seconds into the 4-minute sudden death overtime, with Sheehan taking a pass from Preston Stewart on the right side and hitting an angled overhand shot for the final 7-6 score.
"Scoring the final goal felt good, but it could have been anyone," Sheehan said. "When I got the ball, I knew what I had to do and that's put it in the back of the net."
"It was one of the more intense games, one of the more fun games this year," McCoy said. "As a senior, you only get one more shot so you give it everything, and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. We made a couple of nice shots at the start of the fourth quarter but we didn't get the result we wanted."
Hurych finished with two goals for West Linn, while goalie Caden Lampert made five saves. For Lakeridge, Reichle won nine faceoffs and goalie Andrew Nyhus stopped 12 shots.
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