The 2017 fall season created a ton of great memories
The high school fall sports season has finally come — too early, by the way — to an end in West Linn.
The last holdout of the 2017 fall campaign was the West Linn football team, which saw its stellar season end in a 24-21 loss to Three Rivers League foe Tigard on Nov. 17.
Had the Lions continued to win, they could have extended their year by two additional weeks, into the state semifinals and state championship game.
But now, with fall fading into the rearview mirror — and before the oncoming winter season hits like a freight truck — let's take a moment to look back and savor the many highlights from the fall of 2017.
The Weather: Coming, relatively speaking, after the wettest spring season in my long memory, the 2017 fall season was a joy. It was mostly dry, mostly calm and not as cold as many others I've worked through. Thanks global warming.
The Volleyball: After three painful years of knocking on the door of the Class 6A state tournament, the West Linn volleyball team finally kicked that door down in 2017. The Lions raced through the Three Rivers League season without a loss, grabbed the fifth seed to the state playoffs, then won twice in a row to earn a spot in the eight-team Class 6A state tournament.
And the Lions didn't stop there. They won two of three matches at the tournament — their only loss coming to eventual state champion Southridge — beat Jesuit and Sheldon and took third overall, their best finish since a runner-up effort in 2008.
The Football: While the Lions weren't able to defend the Class 6A title they won in 2016, they were still very, very good in 2017.
West Linn opened the year with five straight wins and the state's top ranking, took a step back with consecutive losses to Tigard and Lake Oswego, then righted itself and won another four straight before the Tigers ended their year in a quarterfinal nail biter.
In the end, Tigard's talented and opportunistic team took advantage of offensive mistakes by the Lions to end their season.
The Soccer: To say the least there were some high highs, and some low lows, in West Linn soccer this year.
In girls play, West Linn proved itself to be one of the Three Rivers League's best teams, battling for a Three Rivers League championship in coach Lauren Pyrch's first season and only falling short in the final week of Three Rivers play.
On the flip side, the Lions' postseason run ended way too soon, finishing in a 1-0 loss to Aloha in the first round of the state playoffs. In that game, West Linn dominated play, created a ton of great scoring chances and just couldn't find the net, while the Warriors cashed in on one of only two solid scoring chances they had.
In boys play, the Lions experienced somewhat the reverse. They struggled through the regular season in the ever-competitive Three Rivers League, then rallied to tie league champion Newberg in their final TRL game, beat seventh-ranked Lincoln in their playoff opener and took Lake Oswego into overtime before eventually losing in the second round.
The Cross Country: While the regular season wasn't everything the West Linn boys team had hoped for, they stepped up when it counted most. First, the Lions came through with a runner-up finish at the TRL district meet that gave them a berth to state. There, with the team healthy and whole for just the second time all year, West Linn ran to fifth in the 6A meet. Even better, not one of the team's seven state competitors will graduate this spring.
The West Linn girls were strong this fall, too, battling the TRL's best during the regular season — the Lions were third in the dual meet season — and again at district, where they took third and secured a berth to state.
The final meet of the year didn't go as well as the Lions hoped — they were hamstrung by injury and other circumstances — the team finished 14th at state still had much to celebrate.
The Games: Over the course of the 85 days of the fall season — from the Wilsonville Night Meet on Aug. 25 through West Linn's final football game on Nov. 17 — I got to cover 29 West Linn games/meets in person.
The Athletes: And now for the best part. Over that same span of slightly less than three months, I got to conduct 72 interviews with West Linn High School athletes.
As their parents, coaches, teachers and friends already know, these athletes are competitive, intelligent, driven, dedicated, funny and interesting, which is why folks who do what I do ought to talk to them and share their thoughts in the paper.
It was a great season.