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Laker girls outplay Cavs but settle for tie

The Lake Oswego girls soccer team did everything possible last Thursday to win the league championship. Well, they accomplished everything but the most important task, which was to beat Clackamas.

Clackamas entered last Thursday's league finale with a two-point lead over Lake Oswego in the league standings. So, the Lakers had to win the game to wrestle first place away from the Cavs.

Maybe, that's what should have happened as the Lakers out-shot the Cavs 18-4 and thoroughly dominated the time of possession. Instead, Lake Oswego wound up settling for a 1-1 tie when Clackamas scored a late goal on a defensive error by the Lakers.

It might have been the most lopsided tie of the year. But for Lake Oswego, it felt more like a loss. Some of the team's players and coaches even referred to it as a loss as they walked dejectedly from the field.

'I always say that the game of soccer can sometimes be cruel,' Lake Oswego coach Dominic Yambasu said. 'It was a gallant effort, but one error can lose the game, I mean tie the game.'

The Cavs, who not only secured the league's No. 1 playoff berth but also landed a first-round bye in the easiest portion of the bracket, certainly didn't play well enough to win the game. In fact, the Lakers completely outplayed the eventual league champions.

The Lakers held the ball for almost the entire first half and enjoyed a 7-0 advantage in shot attempts in the process.

Lake Oswego pretty much did whatever it wanted in that half. There were numerous runs down the flank, usually by midfielder Jill Shoquist, and some nifty moves down the middle, usually by forward Lanakila MacNaughton. Those efforts often resulted in some well-placed centering passes. But the timing between passer and receiver was usually a bit off and Clackamas always managed to come away unscathed.

Lake Oswego was most dangerous, though, when Shoquist attempted one of her many long free kicks. She had one such attempt midway through the first half but it sailed just over the top of the crossbar.

Four minutes later, she got another chance, almost from the same spot, and this time she didn't miss. From 30 yards out, she hit an arching line drive that was just out of reach of Clackamas' jumping goalkeeper. This time, the shot passed just under the crossbar.

'Jill's a phenomenal athlete,' Yambasu said. 'She's certainly going to play in college.'

Charged with the energy they got from scoring the game's first goal, the Lakers put even more pressure on the Clackamas defense in the remaining minutes of the first half. Not long after the goal was scored, Shoquist and MacNaughton put together a nice combination play, but they couldn't finish it. A short time, MacNaughton led a streaking Brooke Bartholomew with a good lead pass but the Clackamas goalie intercepted the ball just before Bartholomew could put it away.

'We had so many opportunities in front of the goal, but we didn't put any of them away,' the coach said.

Only once in the first half did Clackamas come close to attempting a shot but Lake Oswego defender Margaret Johnson thwarted that effort with a sliding tackle from behind.

Clackamas finally got its first shot attempt three minutes into the second half when Jenna Payne launched a long free kick that was wide left.

Shoquist, meantime, continued to fire away, especially from long range. Her best effort, aside from her first-half goal, came 13 minutes into the second half when she belted a 45-yard free kick that was again just out of reach of the goalie but it bounced off the front of the crossbar.

Lake Oswego still had a chance to score on the play, though, when MacNaughton picked up the rebound in front of the net. But the goalie managed to deflect the shot over the bar.

After that, the second half mainly consisted of a series of missed connections in and around the goalie box. Then, with approximately five minutes left, freshman Kat Colson had an excellent opportunity from close range. The Clackamas goal got a hand on Colson's shot to the far post, and it still almost went in.

Forty seconds later, the game completely turned around. It started when a Clackamas played booted a ball toward the Lake Oswego defensive line, which was pulled up close to midfield. One of the defenders tried to give the ball a running back but whiffed. The ball then rolled past everyone and was picked up on the run by Clackamas' Brittney Yates. Despite an attempt to cut off the angle by Lake Oswego goalie Ariana Green, Yates managed to find the far corner of the net with a perfectly placed shot.

'On that one through ball, they caught us flat and there was no cover for the player that was going to (the ball),' Yambasu noted.

After that, neither team really had a decent shot to break the tie.

'I thought we had a better run of the game all game long,' a disappointed Yambasu said afterward.

'But now we've got to forget about all of that and just head on to the playoffs,' the coach added.

The Lakers will have a chance to redeem themselves when they host McMinnville tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in the first round of the state playoffs. If the Lakers win that contest, they will travel to Lincoln for a second-round match-up next Tuesday. The winner of that game will face a likely quarterfinal showdown against Jesuit.

The Cavs, meawhile, received a first-round bye and have a relatively easy path to the quarterfinals. As it turned out, the Cavs are the only No. 1-seeded team in their portion of the bracket.