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Tie with Lakers improves Lions playoff chances

by: Vern Uyetake, Jazmine Whitlock collides with Laker defender Margaret Johnson in last Tuesday’s 0-0 tie. The draw keeps the Lions in fifth place in the league, just a few points behind Lakeridge.

The West Linn girls soccer team knew that any points it could pick up against Lake Oswego would dramatically improve its playoff chances. After suffering a 5-1 loss to the Lakers earlier in the season, even a tie would leave the Lions in decent shape with only games against Milwaukie and Putnam, the two worst teams in the league this year, left on the schedule.

The Lions turned in a solid defensive performance as their patchwork line-up held its own against the talented Laker team and came away with a 0-0 tie.

'We were thrilled. For us it's a matter of coming out focused for 80 minutes. We have so many young kids getting playing time right now. Basically we're competing with our future,' West Linn coach Joey Leonetti said.

It was a slow start for both teams as virtually no scoring chances were had by either team in the opening 10 minutes.

Lake Oswego controlled the pace early and Jill Shoquist got off the game's first shot but it was saved by Lions goalie Addie Brown. Minutes later, Shoquist laid a nice cross in front of the goal that no one could quite catch up to.

Ali Vogt had West Linn's first and only shot of the opening half, a rocket from 25-yards out that Laker goalie Ariana Green timed right and saved.

Lake Oswego's defense was solid for the entire game and only yielded a handful of shots. Margaret Johnson, Lauren Duin, Victoria Gray and Gabrielle Lindeman made a formidable back line that West Linn struggled against.

Late in the opening half, Madeline Johnson had a nice cross that went unanswered and a dangerous Laker corner kick was saved by Brown.

Both coaches stuck to their respective game plans in the second half as the defensive struggle continued.

Lake Oswego continued to have the edge in time of possession but West Linn mustered a few dangerous counter-attacks.

Shoquist nearly gave the Lakers a lead midway through the second half on a curving shot to the near post that was narrowly tipped over the top of the net by Brown.

'Addie's been solid for us all year,' Leonetti said.

Minutes later, Lineman hit a shot from nearly 40 yards away that nearly found the net.

For West Linn, much of the offense ran through Jazmine Whitlock who was able to juke her way through Lake Oswego defenders but had trouble getting off open shots.

'Jazmine created a few chances. We weren't just going to sit back and pack it in. With her and Liz (Sloop) up front who's a great passer, they can be dangerous,' Leonetti said.

Leonetti opted to move Taylor Brooke back from forward for the game in an effort to shore up a midfield that has been hit hard by injuries. Her play helped keep Lake Oswego off the board despite some intense pressure.

'Our goal all year has been to try and get Taylor the ball more. And with Becca Hoiland hurt, she's filled that hole,' Leonetti said.

A header by Lake Oswego's Brooke Bartholomew on a cross missed wide and, with under 10 minutes to play, Madeline Johnson hit a shot along the end line that hit the post.

Both defenses held their ground, however, resulting in the scoreless draw.

The Lions have a bye this Thursday and will travel to Milwaukie's always unpredictable field on Tuesday for a must-win game.

'We know we need wins against Milwaukie and Putnam and then we've done our jobs. But we knew if we got anything out of this game we'd have a fighting shot (at the playoffs),' Leonetti said.