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Important week looms for Lady Lions

by: , West Linn’s Amy Kestek, right, flips the ball over the head of Lakeridge midfielder Victoria Lee. The Pacers won last Thursday’s game 3-1.

It was a tough pair of games for West Linn's girls soccer team. Coach Joey Leonetti knew how balanced the top of the Three Rivers League is this year and a pair of close losses to Lakeridge and Oregon City suddenly puts the Lions on the outside looking in heading into the stretch run of the season.

First place and fifth place in the league have not been separated by a large amount all season as evidenced by the fact, at this time last week, West Linn was in a tie for first. Now the Lions will need to rally against some equally difficult opponents to earn a spot in the postseason again.

'Oregon City sort of controls its own destiny but there's definitely some things we can do too. We just need to take care of business on our end,' Leonetti said.

Lakeridge emerged victorious in what was an exceedingly entertaining contest between two athletic teams last Thursday. West Linn actually got off more shots in the back and forth game but the Lions had fewer shots on goal. On this night, the Pacers were simply better at finishing their chances.

Lakeridge was in control for much of the first half and capitalized early. Eight minutes into the game, Heidi Klein received the ball deep in West Linn's territory and knocked in an uncontested shot.

The Lions responded with a number of chances but the Pacers' defense didn't allow West Linn's talented forwards many clean looks at the goal.

West Linn's Liz Sloop couldn't quite get a foot on a cross that rolled dangerously in front of Lakeridge's open net and Jazmine Whitlock hit a volley over the top of the net.

'We definitely had some chances. In a game like this there wasn't much of a difference between losing 3-1 and winning 2-0,' Leonetti said.

Lakeridge then controlled possession until the final minutes of the first half as Klein and Riley Costello each had shots that were off target.

West Linn nearly knotted the score in the closing minutes of the opening half as Taylor Brooke fired two shots over the top of the goal and made a nice cross that India Hubbard couldn't quite catch up to.

The Pacers regained the momentum early in the second half. Victoria Lee controlled the midfield for Lakeridge, making a pair of steals and firing two hard shots that missed wide.

Six minutes into the half, a defensive letdown allowed Jenna Horton to get off an open shot from point blank range that she took advantage of, giving her team a 2-0 lead.

But just minutes later, the Lions responded. After a pair of close shots were turned away by Pacer goalie Amanda Griffin, the Lions were awarded a penalty kick on a trip and Ali Vogt knocked the shot in.

'I think both teams did enough to win and on this night, Lakeridge got the victory,' Leonetti said.

The final 30 minutes were frenetic with both teams making dangerous runs. The Lions nearly tied the game again on a header that hit the crossbar and bounced straight down, inches from the goal line.

Lee had another shot on goal for Lakeridge but West Linn dominated the contest for the next 10 minutes. Vogt knocked a hard shot over the net and had an opportunity off a corner kick before Lakeridge sealed the victory.

After regaining possession, Lee volleyed a ball in the air from 18 yards away into the top left corner of the net for one of the team's prettiest goals of the season.

'They have a number of upper-classmen who just stepped up and took advantage of their opportunities,' Leonetti said.

With just over a minute to go in the game, the Lions knocked in a shot from the top of the box but it was called off because a penalty had been called on Lakeridge just before the shot.

Brooke had West Linn's final chance of the night but it was tipped over the top of the goal by Griffin to preserve the two-goal victory.

Then, on Monday, the Lions suffered a 2-1 loss to Oregon City and also lost Sloop and Becca Hoiland to hamstring injuries.

West Linn has already been without the services of Sami Demars, Natasha Janner and Kelsey Canez for significant portions of the season.

To make matters worse, goalie Addie Brown also went down and missed some crucial minutes during the contest before returning.

'Everything just kind of came to a head for us in this game. We still played well, though, even with the injuries and had some chances to tie it up,' Leonetti said.

Vogt scored West Linn's lone goal in the contest with just seconds remaining on a penalty kick.