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Girls soccer team racks up two impressive wins

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn’s Jazmine Whitlock gets acrobatic while trying to bring down a loose ball in last Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Clackamas. Whitlock had an assist on the team’s winning goal in the contest.

This year, making one's way through the Three Rivers League in soccer is a marathon, not a sprint. And so far, the West Linn girls appear to be keeping a steady pace.

After a difficult tie against Lakeridge, the Lions have rebounded with two hard-fought victories over a pair of teams that should vie for a playoff berth.

'Every game's going to be a battle. No one is blowing anybody out at this point,' coach Joey Leonetti said.

West Linn got past Oregon City on Thursday 1-0 and then rallied on Tuesday for a solid 3-2 victory over Clackamas.

The game against the Cavaliers was a back and forth struggle with the Lions notching two late goals in the second half to come away with the victory.

After somewhat of a slow start the Lions struck early. Ten minutes into the contest, Ali Vogt took a long free kick. The ball was sent into box but went untouched and ended up catching the Clackamas goalie off-guard as it found the net.

'We've struggled a bit early in games this year so it was nice to start out with an early lead,' Leonetti said.

The Lions controlled the remainder of the first half but with just a few minutes to play, the Cavaliers earned a corner kick. The ball was sent towards the goal line and was deflected by West Linn into the net for the tying tally.

West Linn started the second half well but found themselves in a hole quickly when a Clackamas forward freed herself from her defender and fired a nice shot into the net.

'Their girls found some space and hit a nice shot,' Leonetti said.

Down 2-1 against a more defensive Cavaliers team, the Lions didn't let the deficit keep them down for long.

Shortly after Clackamas' go-ahead goal, Liz Sloop received the ball from about 18 yards out and hit a well-placed shot over a diving goalie to knot the score.

West Linn then responded by playing its best soccer of the evening. Much like they did against Lakeridge, the Lions dominated the final minutes of the game. But this time, they were able to capitalize.

'We really started pouring it on. We played a lot better in the second half,' Leonetti said.

With roughly nine minutes to play in the contest, Jazmine Whitlock made a stellar run down the right side of the field and hit a cross into the goal box.

Sami Demars ran onto the ball and volleyed it into the net for one of the team's best goals of the year.

Clackamas failed to come up with a tying score in the final few minutes and the Lions emerged with an important victory that kept them in a tie for second place in the league with Lakeridge, right behind Lake Oswego.

'Defensively we've only given up one goal that our opponents created in the past two games and scoring three tonight against a good team is a step in the right direction,' Leonetti said.

Against Oregon City, West Linn was out-shot 21-14 and the Pioneers actually had some of the best scoring chances in the game.

Goalie Addie Brown turned in a phenomenal effort, stopping a number of close shots including one from star Sarah Boyd that was deflected off the cross bar and eventually cleared.

'Addie allowed us to keep grinding the game out, waiting for our chances to result in a goal,' Leonetti said. Brown ended up with 10 saves in the game and the majority of them were difficult ones.

West Linn's defense was particularly good against the Pioneers.

Susan Schrank and Amy Kestek thwarted a number of dangerous runs from Oregon City and helped Brown earn the shut out.

After a scoreless first half, the Lions finally broke through as Vogt attempted a free kick that got past the Oregon City goalie and was knocked in by an opportunistic Becca Hoiland.

The Lions then held off a strong Pioneer team to earn the victory.

'If you had told me that after three games against the team's we've played that we'd be 2-0-1, I'd have taken it,' Leonetti said.

Next up for West Linn is Lake Oswego on the road this Thursday in what is the biggest game for the Lions so far this season.

West Linn is currently tied for first place with Lakeridge, a team it tied last week. Lake Oswego is right behind in second place with two victories of its own.

'We really have to take things one game at a time. I think five teams are going to be right in the thick of things and nothing's going to be decided until the 12th game,' Leonetti said.