Pacer girls settle for tie with West Linn

by: Vern Uyetake, Lakeridge’s Victoria Lee, left, fends off West Linn’s Jazmine Whitlock during Tuesday’s league opener in soccer. Lee  and teammate Riley Costello both scored goals for the Pacers, but Lakeridge wound up settling for a 2-2 tie with the Lions.

The opening game of the Three Rivers League soccer season settled absolutely nothing for the Lakeridge girls Tuesday night.

But, from the perspective of Lakeridge coach Pete Siddons, settling for a 2-2 tie against West Linn wasn't such a bad thing.

'Absolutely. This was their house. They were supposed to win,' Siddons said after the game. 'We got points (actually one point for a tie) out of their house. So, when they come to our house, we'll look for the win.'

Conceivably, Lakeridge could have started the league season with a win at West Linn. Even West Linn coach Joey Leonetti acknowledged that the Pacers outplayed his team for much of the game, especially in the first half.

'We really weren't ready to go in the first half,' Leonetti said. 'I don't know if it was nerves or excitement, but we just weren't ready to come out and play.'

Siddons had no such concerns about his team, however. Quite frankly, the Pacers were taking the game to West Linn in the first half. Lakeridge played so much better in the midfield that West Linn rarely moved the ball moved past the 50-yard line during the first 18 minutes of action.

Even though that one-sided play resulted in a few good shot attempts for Lakeridge, nothing was hit well enough to find its way to the net. Then, with approximately 22 minutes left in the first half, West Linn mounted a quick counter-attack that resulted in a goal by Jazmine Whitlock. Despite being outplayed, West Linn made that 1-0 lead stand up through the remainder of the half.

Whatever Siddons said to his team at the break must have been profound, because the Pacers were more fired up at the start of the second half than they were at the start of the game.

In fact, only 46 seconds had elapsed in second half when the Pacers scored their first goal of the game. It was registered by Riley Costello on a penalty kick that was assessed for a hand-ball infraction in the goalie box. West Linn goalie Addie Brown made a nice diving attempt to stop Costello's shot but the ball trickled through Brown's hands and into the net.

Approximately two minutes later, Lakeridge had its first lead of the game when Victoria Lee drilled a long shot into the left corner of the net. At that point, Lakeridge seemed on the verge of registering a blowout. But, to West Linn's credit, the Lions slowly started to turn the game around and eventually seized control down the stretch.

West Linn got the equalizer when Sami DeMars tapped in Taylor Brooke's shot attempt with 18:01 left in the game. The Lions then put on soccer's version of the full-court press in an effort to get the winner.

West Linn had three close calls in the final three minutes, including a ball that slipped past Lakeridge goalie Amanda Griffin before being cleared away by Lee.

By the end, a 2-2 tie was probably a fitting end to a game that had plenty of action.

'It was just a fantastic game by both teams. There was a lot of heart … It was exciting to be part of that game,' Siddons said.

Of course, it would have been even more exciting for Siddons if the Pacers had won, and that seemed like a real possibility for a while.

'I think you could definitely say that, (but) the last 15 minutes was a little scary for us,' Siddons said. '(West Linn) showed a lot of heart at the end. That's a good team - a good program.'

In what has apparently developed into a mutual admiration society, Leonetti was praising the play of several Lakeridge players after the game. The West Linn coach was especially impressed with Lakeridge's midfield.

'The girls they had in the middle were just good players and they were winning a lot of balls,' Leonetti said.

In addition to the play of Costello and Lee, Sam Berryman, Jenna Horton and Stephanie Crim also turned in solid performances.

'We have a solid team this year,' Siddons said in agreement with Leonetti. 'I'm absolutely proud of what they put on the field tonight … It was fun to watch.'