Appearances can be deceiving sometimes. The Lakeridge boys soccer team provided a good example of that Tuesday night in a 3-0 victory over Lake Oswego in the annual Civil War showdown.
For approximately the first 50 minutes of action, the visiting Pacers seemed to be moving at about three-quarters speed while they waited for something to happen. Then, after almost lulling the host Lakers to sleep, the Pacers got their best scoring opportunity about 10 minutes into the second half.
In almost the blink of an eye, Lakeridge (6-0 overall) quickly traveled the length of the field and scored before Lake Oswego's defense had a chance to adjust. The Lakers never really recovered from that moment. In fact, Lakeridge added another goal 29 seconds later and then tacked on an insurance goal with 7:48 left.
It was a difficult outcome for a Lake Oswego team that has had its share of difficulties lately, including the forced resignation of head coach Colin Stead, who led a verbal outburst against the referees at last Thursday's game at West Linn. Considering the circumstances, it would have been understandable if Lake Oswego had just 'mailed it in' against Lakeridge on Tuesday. Instead, the Lakers, who are now being led by interim coach Garrett Marcum, might have turned in their best all-around performance of the season.
'I thought Garrett did an excellent job of getting things organized quickly,' Lakeridge coach Paul Slover said after the game. 'In the first half, the ball was up in the air a lot and that definitely doesn't play to our strength. They did a good job of taking us out of our game.'
In fact, for a team that hasn't won a game this season, the Lakers seemed primed to pull off an upset against their cross-town rivals. For starters, the Lakers (0-3-3 overall) turned in possibly their best defensive performance of the season. On offense, they asserted just enough pressure to keep the Pacers off-balance.
'They lost 3-0 but I can't really fault them for that,' Marcum said of his team's effort. 'They worked hard. They worked their butts off.'
Except for an occasional shot from long distance, very little happened through the first 48 minutes of the game. Then suddenly, without warning, Lakeridge created a somewhat unlikely scoring opportunity that turned the game around.
It started with a long punt by the Pacers' sophomore goalkeeper, Jason Dodson. The ball traveled almost three-quarters of the length of the field and had barely touched down at the other end when it was scooped up by striker Taylor Thompson. He then passed off to a streaking Eric Destefano and Destefano quickly got it back to Thompson, who deposited the ball in the corner of the net, almost before Lake Oswego goalie Alex Watson had a chance to react.
'You make a mistake and they're down your throats right away,' Marcum said of Lakeridge's first goal.
It seems that the team that scores first in this rivalry series usually winds up winning, but the Pacers didn't waste much time celebrating their first goal of the night. Just seconds later, Lakeridge was back in position when Destefano drilled a close-range shot that Watson deflected. Before Watson could recover, Lakeridge's Facundo Dipasuale snatched up the rebound and drove it into the near corner for a 2-0 lead.
'We're very fortunate,' Slover said. 'We have some very good attacking players.'
Despite the demoralizing affect of that second goal, the Lakers didn't quit. Over the next eight minutes, they mustered four good scoring chances (including two by Conor McWade), but Dodson was in perfect position every time.
'He's very tough,' Marcum said of Dodson. 'He's doing the regional ODP (Olympic development program) stuff and when you play against that, especially at the high school level, it's very difficult. It's like playing against a wall.'
Lakeridge then finished off the victory with a penalty-kick goal by Corey Rosenfeld. Watson was called for the penalty for dragging down Rosenfeld in the box. Watson had virtually no choice, though, because Lakeridge had two other players waiting to finish off the play.
It was an unusual game that went from being an almost boring affair in the beginning, when both teams had trouble mustering any offense, to a wide-open contest that was filled with action. The difference, according to Slover, came when Lakeridge was able to keep the ball on the turf.
'Any time we had the ball at our feet and the ball on the floor, we were dangerous,' Slover said. 'The problem was, in the first half, it wasn't very often that we had the ball at our feet and on the floor. I think you've got to give credit to LO for not letting us play.
'And they were definitely scary (on offense) at times,' the Lakeridge coach continued. 'They definitely made the game difficult for us.'
One has the feeling that the Lakers are now on the verge of turning the corner, but now there's one than one obstacle to overcome.
'With that kind of a black eye (from last Thursday) on our record, we need to turn it around not only for oursleves but also for our school,' Marcum said.