West Linn boys lacrosse rallies to beat OES 12-8, reach state semis
The Three Rivers League regular season didn't quite include everything the West Linn boys lacrosse team wanted.
But that doesn't mean the postseason won't.
The Lions, who finished second in the Three Rivers League regular season, won their second straight playoff game on Friday, May 24, beating two-time defending state champion Oregon Episcopal School 12-8 in the Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state quarterfinals at West Linn High School.
In the process, second-seeded West Linn won its fifth straight game and advanced to the OHSLA semifinals where it will face third-seeded Sunset at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at Lake Oswego High School.
"We've just got to step it up. We've got to focus on practice every day (and) just keep working hard," said West Linn senior goalie and team captain Carson Bradford, who made seven saves in the win. "That's what it takes, hard work. We've got the talent."
"I'm feeling great," said senior defender and team captain Clint Berggren, who helped his team hold OES to its fourth-lowest point total of the season. "With this team, with this win, there's nothing more I want. School is winding down and it's toward the end of the season so we've got to bring our 'A' game."
With the win, the Lions improved their season record to 16-3 overall, while the Aardvarks — the Columbia Conference champions — saw their three-game winning streak snapped and ended their year at 13-5.
While West Linn wound up on top on Friday, it was OES that held the upper hand early on in the contest.
Aardvark senior attack Alex Slusher made sure of that.
Slusher scored four times in the opening period — the first two coming just 1 minute, one second apart, the second two in a span of just 1:04 at the end of the quarter — to give OES a 4-2 lead, with West Linn staying close behind scores from seniors Lucas Hockman and Michael Stell.
But then, in the second quarter, the Lions took off. They clamped down their defense on Slusher, ignited their offense and stitched together a 7-2 scoring edge that gave them a 9-6 lead at the half.
West Linn seniors Anders Martenson and Ross Scott did most of the damage on offense there, with Martenson collecting all three of his goals in the period, Scott adding another two and the others coming from seniors Ethan Loun and Stell. OES' scores came from Jack Morissette and John Fitzhenry.
"After the first quarter, we decided to lock down (Slusher) because he's a big deal," Berggren said. "Once we got that, our offense started working, our defense started working and we put points on the board."
While West Linn's offense was relatively more subdued in the second half — the Lions scored once in the third quarter and twice in the fourth — it didn't matter because the Lions' "D" kept the pressure on, allowing the Aardvarks just two goals in the game's final 25:15.
"It was all about working hard," Bradford said. "We were willing to work hard and work with each other. We had the synergy. It was great."
The Lions' lone goal in the third quarter came from junior Zach Vannaman (assisted by Stell), while their final two scores were from Scott and Stell (assisted by Scott).
"They've won the state championship two years in a row and they have one of the best players in the state, so when we can do something like this, beat them by four or five, that means a lot to all of us," Berggren said.
For the game, Stell, Martenson and Scott scored three times each, junior Spencer Edwards finished with 10 ground balls, junior Chase Fletcher had seven ground balls and junior Eli Thayer another four.
Slusher finished with four goals and Morissette two for the Aardvarks, while Vernon Cowell led OES with three ground balls.
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