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Lady Lions pull into tie for first place with 5-1 win

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn’s Kristy Elgin fires a shot during the first half of Tuesday’s 5-1 victory over Putnam.

Just minutes before the Lions put the finishing touches on an impressive 5-1 victory over Putnam on Tuesday, a cheer went up in the visitor's stands. Clackamas had just handed Lake Oswego its first loss of the season, meaning that the Lions were now in a tie for first place.

Although that loss by the Lakers severely muddied the waters atop the Three Rivers League standings, it gave West Linn confidence knowing that the road to a league title is in its own hands again.

The Lions used a strong second half to put away the Kingsmen on a field that is always difficult to play on.

'It's nice to play on this field early on because it's only going to get worse when it starts to rain,' West Linn coach Joey Leonetti said.

After a scoreless opening 10 minutes, West Linn got on the board first. Liz Sloop took a feed from Taylor Brooke, beat one defender and found herself wide open in front of the net. She then sent a shot past the Putnam goalie to give her team an early lead.

Less than two minutes later, West Linn regained possession deep in Putnam territory. The Kingsmen had difficulty clearing the ball for a good portion of the evening and, in this case, it cost them a goal.

After some sloppy play in the defense, Sloop corralled a loose ball and scored again as the Putnam goalie was out of position.

'We were in the right place at the right time a lot tonight and did a good job finishing,' Leonetti said.

But the Kingsmen countered quickly. Just three minutes later, a cross off of a set play found an open Putnam forward who knocked a shot in, cutting the lead to a single goal.

Both teams had a number of opportunities to score again in the half. Ali Vogt sent a free kick just wide for West Linn while Putnam missed an open shot from point blank range minutes before the end of the half.

After the break, the Lions thoroughly dominated the game. Putnam had very few scoring chances in the second half while West Linn knocked in three more goals and narrowly missed on multiple other attempts.

Less than two minutes into the second half, West Linn earned a corner kick and the cross was muffed by the Putnam goalie allowing Brooke to easily knock the loose ball into the open net.

The Lions played most of the half on Putnam's side of the field before Jazmine Whitlock made it 4-1 on a nice chip shot from the top of the goal box.

But West Linn still wasn't done. Minutes later, Amy Kestek fired a shot off the crossbar and Sloop knocked in the rebound for what was seemingly a hat trick.

However, the goal was waved off because of an offsides infraction.

Finally, with 14:45 to play, Brooke received the ball from Haelee Staskiewicz on the right side and finessed a shot past the goalie off the far post and in for the Lions' final score.

'I thought it was a really good team effort tonight. Everyone who came in did a good job for us,' Leonetti said.

The win came on the heels of a 4-0 victory of Milwaukie last Thursday.

West Linn moved into a tie for first with Lake Oswego but there is only a four-point differential between first place and fifth.

'I said at the beginning of the season that nothing was going to be decided until the last game and I really think that's going to be the case,' Leonetti said.

The Lions' next game is on the road against Lakeridge, a team it tied the first time around.