The Lions can't slow down Lake Oswego after jumping out to and early lead

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn goalie Annalyssa Sassara makes a save during last week's state title game at Tualatin High School. Sassara had 13 saves in the contest. The season came to a disappointing end for the West Linn girls lacrosse team last week. Not a lot went right for the Lions after the first few minutes of play against Lake Oswego at Tualatin High School.

After the Lions jumped out to a quick lead, the Lakers rattled off eight straight goals on a run that lasted into the second half and cruised to an 11-5 victory.

Things went downhills quickly for West Linn and the defending state champions could never turn the tide.

West Linn appeared firmly in control for nearly the first 15 minutes of the game. Natalie Bryne got the scoring started off a penalty. Then, two minutes later, Mariah Gatti scored on a shot that was partially deflected to give her team a quick 2-0 advantage.

Goalie Annalyssa Sassara also did a nice job, turning away a handful of tough early shots by the Lakers.

Lake Oswego would hunker down on defense and get its first goal midway through the half but the Lions were quick to respond with a pretty shot from Gatti on a feed from Byrne.

Moments later, West Linn appeared to take a 4-1 lead when Byrne tossed in another shot, but it was disallowed as a Laker defender was struck in the face on the follow through.

The game would dramatically shift from that point on. Lake Oswego scored twice in less than 20 seconds to knot the score at 3-3.

Penalties started to stymie West Linn dramatically late in the half. The Lions played shorthanded for large periods of the contest and Lake Oswego took advantage.

The Lakers did well on draws, an area where they were dominated agains the Lions in the regular season and they were a step quicker to ground balls for much of the night.

West Linn's defense did well to keep the damage at a minimum, getting nice plays from Mary Richardson and Caitlin Bernert, plus three late saves from Sassara.

Byrne also had a shot that narrowly missed in the final minutes of the half and Gatti hit the post and the Lakers led 6-3 at the break.

Lake Oswego's defense played a similar strategy to the one it showed in the second regular season game with the Lions which it eked out to clinch a tie for the league title.

The Lakers swarmed to West Linn's top scorers, particularly Byrne, forcing the ball out of her hands.

Lake Oswego would rattle off three more goals early in the second half to go up 9-3 before a pretty move by Hanna Morford finally broke the drought.

The Lions never gave up, continuing to put pressure on Lake Oswego. However, the Lakers' freshman goalie, Riley Hertford came up with big saves at clutch times to keep the Lions at bay.

Lake Oswego would all but put the game away midway through the second half, going up 11-4 before Jazmine Agcaoili scored the game's final goal.

West Linn will graduate some key pieces this spring but both the Lions and Lakers figure to be back as two of the top teams in the state yet again next year.

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