Things are so tight at the top of the Three Rivers League standings this year that Lake Oswego's hard-earned draw against West Linn on Tuesday actually the Lakers into third place behind Clackamas and Oregon City.
However, the Lakers can still quite easily capture the league title with solid play in their remaining games. Lake Oswego turned in a stellar defensive performance against a West Linn team that was playing to stay alive in the playoff race to come away with the tie.
'The message is to think about how we played when we picked it up in the second half today and use that for our next few games,' Lakers coach Dominic Yambasu said.
It was a slow start for both teams as virtually no scoring chances were had by either team in the opening 10 minutes.
'I think we started off slow in the first half and didn't really play our game,' Yambasu said.
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.
'Again, the defense was solid and our intensity on offense just wasn't up to what it normally is,' Yambasu said.
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.
'After talking to the girls (at the half) I think they really played better,' Yambasu said.
Minutes later, Lindeman 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.
Leonetti opted to move Taylor Brooke back from forward 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.
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.
'We hit the post there late in the game and that's the way it goes sometimes,' Yambasu said.
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.