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The Lions open the Three Rivers League season with an exclamation point on Thursday.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Reese Wasmund of West Linn sprints upfield during her team's 17-2 Three Rivers League win over Oregon City at West Linn High School on Thursday, April 7.There's never a wrong time to step on the accelerator.

Like when it's your first league game. Or when you're facing a traditional rival. Or when you really, really want to bounce back from a loss.

So that's just what the West Linn girls lacrosse team did on Thursday, April 7, accelerating past Oregon City 17-2 at West Linn High School.

"I think we were just ready for a fun game to experiment and do good," said West Linn forward Ella McKay, who tied teammates Samantha Bast and Eva Murray for game-high scoring honors with four goals; she also added three assists and three ground balls. "And it was nice to get a ton of the girls the chance to play different positions and just work with them."

"I think we were ready to just go out and get a bunch of goals right off the bat, and then later on, work on some of the stuff we were doing at practice and just really focus and hone in on some of (it)," said Lila Skates, who finished with two goals, two assists and two ground balls.

With the win, the Lions bounced back from their 10-9 loss to Jesuit two days earlier and improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 3-1 overall. Oregon City, meanwhile, lost for the second straight time and fell to 0-2 in TRL play and 1-4 overall.

"I think we had some nervous jitters in the beginning," said Oregon City's Lila Meyer, who scored once, made one assist and won seven draw controls. "But once we started playing, we worked together as a team and got our team chemistry back … and it started working out for us."

"It's just our second league game (so even a tough loss) … makes us better," said OC's Rainee Kitzmiller. "It's about keeping your head up and working toward a goal and encouraging each other and not let each other bring each other down."

That said, the game's first 12 minutes were an absolute rout for the Lions, with West Linn scoring five times in the first five minutes and adding five more in the next seven, eventually pushing ahead 10-0 when Skates scored from 10 yards out with 12:51 remaining in the half.

Skates connected twice in that stretch, McKay and Eva Murray hit three times each, and Bast and Reese Wasmund scored once each to help the Lions take that double-digit lead.

While Oregon City never threatened West Linn's lead, the Pioneers did get their game legs under them, slowed the bleeding and showed their ability to compete. First, Ella Schaller got her team on the scoreboard when Meyer was fouled to set up a free position shot, and she set up Schaller for the score with 11:42 left in the half.

More importantly, the Oregon City defense recovered after the night's turbulent start and limited West Linn to just two goals — both from Morgan Adams — in the final 12:51 of the half.

"Our defense really picked it up and we were communicating more, working on our slides, just doing better and I think that definitely helped," Kitzmiller said.

While the Lions' lead remained a daunting 12-1 at halftime, the Pioneers kept competing in the second half and forged a 1-1 tie in the first nine minutes of the period. McKay hit early in the second half to make it 13-1, but Meyer matched her after taking a pass from Taylor Dorfler and scoring with 19:15 left in the contest.

That said, the Lions weren't about to let this one get close, adding four straight goals in the final 15:55 for their final 17-2 advantage. Audrey Lippert scored two of those goals for West Linn, while Bast and Murray added one each to seal their team's victory.

Beyond just their runaway Thursday win, the Lions' success has them looking forward to a long and successful 2022 season.

"I think it's definitely a state championship year — that's my hope," Skates said. "If we keep growing every game, we'll be in good shape and ready."

"I think (the key is) growing our connection as a team, working on that flow of the offense, just trying to get it all moving and working at a high level," McKay added. "(That and) playing the top teams like Jesuit and (Lake Oswego) — that's going to grow our connection and get us a lot better and ready for those tougher games."

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