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Young boys soccer team off to slow start in league

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn’s Drew Tucker attempts to fend off a Clackamas defender in last Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Cavaliers. Earlier in the week the Lions picked up their first league victory of the season, a 6-0 win over Oregon City.

It was an up and down week for the West Linn boys soccer team. Last Thursday the Lions easily handled a struggling Oregon City team 6-0, finishing the majority of the chances they had in the contest, but coach Greg Bean was not overly excited about his team's first league win of the year.

'It wasn't that we won, it was how we did it. We won it ugly and didn't execute what we wanted to,' Bean said.

Then on Tuesday West Linn was outplayed by Clackamas and was dealt a 4-1 loss, bringing the young Lions to 2-3 on the year (1-2 in league.)

Clackamas used relentless pressure, capitalized on a few defensive miscues and some luck in the victory.

'Clackamas has a number of seniors and they communicate well. They were obviously on the same page,' Bean said.

The Cavaliers were in complete control of the game early on, up 2-0 in the second half when the Lions were awarded a free kick deep in Clackamas' territory.

Abdelkaddar Elhabbassi laid a quick pass to an unchecked Ryan Kurtin who hit a hard shot that was deflected by the Clackamas goalie into the net.

Suddenly the Lions had new life, needing just one more score to knot the game. West Linn came out with intensity after the next kick-off but their momentum was quickly taken away.

Just over a minute after the Lions' goal, Clackamas regained possession down the right sideline and a nice cross was laid to a Cavaliers forward from about 20 yards out.

The forward took a swing, meaning to drive the ball but mis-hit the shot, chipping it into the air while tearing up a large piece of turf in the process.

It turned out to be a great shot, however, as the ball knuckled over goalie Joe Offer's oustretched arms and into the net.

That score ended any chance for West Linn to make a comeback.

Clackamas dominated possession all evening rarely allowing the Lions to complete more than two or three passes in succession and the routinely won balls in the air, especially on Offer's punts from the goal box.

'We gave up the 50-50 ball. I can't take anything away from Clackamas. They fought from whistle to whistle and we did not,' Bean said.

Offer was a bright spot for West Linn, making a number of stellar saves throughout the game, otherwise the differential may have been higher.

The game was actually scoreless until seven minutes remaining in the first half. That's when a Clackamas midfielder went unmarked and knocked in an easy shot from less than 10 yards away.

West Linn's Gustava Bessa had the best scoring chance for the Lions in the opening half, hitting a hard shot from close range that was saved nicely by the Clackamas goalie and then cleared.

Next up for the Lions is a home game against Lake Oswego, a team that has also struggled early with league losses to Putnam and Milwaukie.

'We've made a couple of adjustments so far. Some of it's kids being tried in new positions. It's all about maturity, chemistry and time together. The next step is for the kids to decide that they want to have the same kind of communication that we saw tonight. That's the next step. This team's going to get it at some point in time,' Bean said.