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LO girls do everything but win playoff with Lincoln

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Alysaa Hopcus keeps her eyes on the ball as she prepares to make a long pass to a teammate during last Thursday’s first-round playoff victory over McMinnville. But the Lakers’ playoff run ended on Tuesday with a 1-0 loss to Lincoln.

Getting the ball into scoring was never a problem for the Lake Oswego girls soccer team this season. But converting those opportunities did prove to be a problem, especially late in the season.

That would basically describe what happened to the Lakers in Tuesday's second-round playoff match against Lincoln. The Lakers had numerous scoring opportunities in that game but they converted none of them and wound up losing 1-0.

It was a game Lake Oswego (9-3-4) easily could have won. Some might even say that the Lakers should have won the game.

'Soccer has a lot of different phases and we just saw one of them tonight,' Lake Oswego coach Dominic Yambasu said after the loss.

Tuesday's phase, Yambasu said, 'Was one that was not meant to be.'

To Lincoln's credit, the Cardinals were a solid bunch from front to back, and they didn't make very many mistakes. It seemed every time Lake Oswego got the ball into scoring position a Lincoln player would step in and muck up everything for the Lakers.

At the other end, Lake Oswego's defense was equally stingy when the Cardinals had the ball. Even when Lincoln scored, it would have been hard to fault the Lakers' defense on the play.

The goal was scored by sophomore forward Caroline Kreuz, who looked like a front-court player who was posting up a defender in basketball. After receiving an entry pass on the far left side of the goalie box, Kreuz gradually started backing her way towards the goal. Then she quickly spun around and drilled a line drive from a tough angle that just barely slipped past Lake Oswego goalkeeper Ariana Green and just inside the far post.

'We made one mistake when we didn't double (team) on that ball in the back,' Yambasu said.

'It was a very difficult angle. But when you strike the ball well and it's on target, a lot of things can happen.'

That goal came with 12:53 left in the first half, so the Lakers had plenty of time left to score an equalizer, and then some.

But Lake Oswego's best chances in the first half all seemed to get intercepted by Lincoln goalkeeper Brett Rousseau. Then, things began to heat up considerably for the Lakers in the second half.

The Lakers' best chance came four minutes into the second half when Jill Shoquist belted a long free kick that looked like it was headed into the goal. But at the last moment, the ball curved sharply and struck the bottom of the far post. The Lakers still had a chance to find the net on that play as Lincoln's players had trouble corralling the rebound. However, the Lake Oswego players couldn't chase down the rebound, either.

Ten minutes later, Lake Oswego's Margaret Johnson had a good look at the goal when she went high for a header off a corner kick by Shoquist. But Johnson's shot barely sailed over the top of the net.

Lake Oswego stepped up its offensive pressure in the final 10 minutes, especially after Shoquist moved from the back line to a forward position. Not long after that, though, Shoquist was sent to the bench for the remainder of the night when she received her second yellow card of the night.

Both of Shoquist's yellow cards were issued because of descent on the player's part. But the second yellow appeared to be a questionable call as Shoquist said nothing to the official.

Matters got even worse for the Lakers a short time later when Lanakila MacNaughton was given a red card and an automatic ejection for slapping a Lincoln player on the head. The incident occurred after the two players had words with each other following a collision between the two.

Surprisingly, Lake Oswego was still able to mount a strong attack while playing with one less player. The team's best run came with approximately two minutes left when the Lakers' Madeline Johnson had a step on her defender and was preparing to let loose with a shot from about 10 yards away.

But before Johnson could finish her move, she was sent sprawling to the turf with a hard hit from behind. However, the referee quickly called a penalty kick and the Lakers had a chance to tie the game with 1:59 left to play.

Shoquist probably would have taken the kick in that situation, but with her on the bench the honor when to Emily Rohde. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Rohde's kick was too far inside and Rousseau was able punch the shot away from the goal.

At that point, all of the Lake Oswego players assumed the play was over and the ball was dead. So, they all retreated for a run back to midfield while the loose ball bounced around the goalie box. Without any resistance from the Lakers, the Cardinals finally managed to clear ball out of harm's way.

Despite the loss and all of the close calls, Yambasu liked the way his team played.

'I think our kids played very hard and with a lot of tenacity,' the coach said.