Girls soccer: West Linn beats Lake Oswego to advance to 6A final
One goal was all it took to send the West Linn Lions into the 6A girls soccer state championship game.
For the second game in a row, Kate Cheldelin had the match-winning goal as the second-ranked Lions defeated No. 6 Lake Oswego 1-0 on Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at West Linn High School. Thanks to a strong defensive showing from the back line and an outstanding performance in net from goalkeeper Kyra Jeffery, that lone scoring play was enough to push West Linn into the 6A state championship on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3:30 p.m. in Hillsboro.
When the final whistle blew, it sent sophomore defender Izzie Mansfield and the rest of the West Linn team into jubilant celebration.
"Seeing the team, some of us were crying, and it was just so amazing," said the sophomore. "I wish I could relive that moment all over again."
The Lions continued their unbeaten run in the 2022 season, winning their 14th match of the year to go along with three ties and zero losses. After winning the Three Rivers League title, West Linn has reeled off four wins in a row during the postseason, including defeats of No. 31 Southridge, No. 15 Barlow, No. 10 Lincoln and now Lake Oswego.
One more, and the Lions will make history at West Linn High School, which has never won a state championship in girls soccer. In fact, this team has already made history: Saturday's trip to the state title game is a program first.
Cheldelin says the goal now is simple: "To win, obviously."
"We made it there, that was not even expected. Now, we're going to throw everything we have in there to win," added the junior.
Cheldelin noted that a bit of inside information on the Lakers — specifically, about Lake Oswego goalkeeper Sadie Gardner — helped her get the goal that sent her team to Saturday's state championship game.
"What's crazy is, that's my club teammate who I've played with until this current season, so I kind of knew her," said Cheldelin. "I knew if I just took one extra little touch, I could beat her."
Gardner is not the only member of the Lake Oswego team that Cheldelin knows from club soccer, either.
"There's definitely some talent on their team, I've played with some of them for a few years now," Cheldelin explained. "We knew, even though we beat them last time, that we had to play like a whole new team. That was one of our hardest matchups all season."
The feeling was mutual from the Lake Oswego side, according to Laker senior captain Megan Ko.
"We knew this game was going to be tough," said Ko. "We went out there with a lot energy, our intensity was high."
Ko added: "We missed a few of our chances that we could have put away, but overall, we played well. I'm super proud of this group."
After the relatively early goal, the West Linn defense managed to hold on for the final 67-plus minutes. One of the main reasons for that was the performance of the Lions' senior goalkeeper, Kyra Jeffrey, who made multiple diving and jumping saves to preserve the shutout.
"Oh my gosh, Kyra did so amazing," Mansfield said after the win. "Saved all of our butts. I'm so proud of her."
As for the Lakers, their season may be done, but Ko will still think fondly about her senior season.
"This season was so special," said the Laker captain. "The group of girls that was together every single day, they're all so special and mean so much. We're all friends off the field, and we've built such a family at this program for the past four years. This team has meant so much to me, and they've helped me grow as a player and a person."
The Lakers have an especially happy memory to think back on, too. Following playoff wins over No. 27 Willamette and No. 11 Forest Grove, Lake Oswego knocked off No. 3 Sunset in the quarterfinals — a sweet helping of revenge for the 2021 season.
"That meant so much," said Ko. "Last year, our season fell short losing to Sunset in the quarterfinals, and so beating Sunset in the quarterfinals this year meant a lot."
"We had the past seniors, the seniors of last year, in our hearts for that game, and we played for them and our whole team," Ko added.
In a similar vein, West Linn players like Mansfield and Cheldelin are dedicating their efforts to their seven senior teammates as the Lions hunt their first state title.
"It's so amazing to be on this team," said Mansfield. "Our mindset is just working for our team. We work for each other, and we know that we want to make it an amazing year for the seniors."
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