The calendar said Oct. 6.
The matchup said Battle for the Bridge.
The play on the field, however, said state playoff game.
While the playoffs don't actually begin for a month, the West Linn and Oregon City girls soccer teams got after it big-time like they were already there on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at West Linn High School.
The Lions pushed ahead to a two-goal lead, withstood a furious Pioneer rally over the game's final 25 minutes and walked out with a 2-1 victory.
"I think we were doing a lot of good passes and … through balls and crosses and I think that was working out for us really well," said West Linn junior Kaia Schmidt, who scored her team's winning goal in the second half. "It was just super exciting."
"They thought they were going to come out and be more aggressive than us, so we came out with higher energy than them because we didn't want them to win 50/50 balls," said senior defender Asia Hardin. "We wanted that to be what we did because it makes it harder for them to attack us."
With the win, the ninth-ranked Lions extended their unbeaten streak to four games and improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 4-2-2 overall. No. 4 Oregon City, meanwhile, saw its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 6-3 overall.
"I think (we just had) unlucky chances," said Oregon City senior defender Rachel Remsburg, who scored her team's lone goal with 16 minutes left in the contest. "I think we had better chances than them, but we just couldn't finish."
"I thought we came back after they scored — I thought we came back super well," said junior midfielder Amelia Spellman, who assisted on Remsburg's goal. "We were aggressive, we wanted it and we started to get it together, getting our passes crisp. I think if we had five more minutes, we would have scored again."
The Lions started fast against the Pioneers, getting four shots on goal in the game's first 10 minutes, including a 24-yard free kick off the crossbar by junior Kelan Betts, and four minutes later, a 15-yard goal from senior Katie Laidlaw for a 1-0 lead.
While neither team scored in the remaining 25 minutes of the opening half, the Pioneers rallied impressively, getting a pair of corner kicks in the final 15 minutes and solid shots by senior Bree McCullough and Remsburg.
After the two teams traded shots early in the second half — the Pios' by sophomore Taylor Alexander and the Lions' from senior Campbell Sheffield — West Linn scored again for that two-goal lead. Schmidt did the honors, collecting the ball 20 yards out of goal and driving a low shot into the net for a 2-0 lead with 13:30 left in the match.
"I saw the chance and I took it. I wanted it," Schmidt said. "I think we worked really hard and it paid off."
Oregon City just kept pushing, though, and closed within 2-1 when Spellman sent a corner kick toward the West Linn goal from the right side and Remsburg slid between a pair of Lion defenders to head home a goal with 16 minutes left to play.
"I felt like after their first goal, we didn't hang our heads, but we fought back to get another one," Remsburg said. "It was a good ball by (Spellman). I wanted it. I was just in the right place at the right time."
The Pioneers added two more shots on goal in the final 12 minutes of the contest — both stopped by West Linn junior keeper Kyra Jeffrey — while the Lions' last shot came from freshman Cassidy Harding.
"I think our defense did really good holding them down because we were so aggressive," Hardin said. "We are very strong and we don't let a lot of things slide in the back, for sure."
"I felt like our intensity throughout the game stayed high," Remsburg added. "If we had a couple more minutes, I think we would have won the game."
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