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Pacers girls keep Tornado off board until the end

Lakeridge's girls soccer team were road warriors all season. The Pacers' one and only preseason contest forced them to travel to Roseburg and the girls always seemed to rise to the occasion in hostile territory.

And, once again, the biggest game of the season for Lakeridge forced the team to travel, this time to North Medford.

To ease some of the burden of a long bus ride, the team traveled to Medford the day before the game to be ready for the noon kickoff.

It was an epic contest that seemed destined to be determined by penalty kicks. Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities and painful near misses, which left the score tied 0-0 with under five minutes to play.

'It was just a really hard-fought game on both sides. I thought our girls did a phenomenal job,' coach Pete Siddons said.

But with just three minutes remaining in regulation, the Black Tornado earned a corner kick and the ensuing cross was deflected into the net leaving the Pacers with very little time to mount a comeback.

Lakeridge played even with the Black Tornado all contest long and, for extended periods of time, dominated the scoring opportunities.

In fact, it was probably one of the Pacers' best games of the season.

'We had a ton of good chances and it was one of those situations where, if we played (North Medford) again on Sunday we probably would have won. That's just how soccer goes sometimes,' Siddons said.

Just two minutes into the game, Lakeridge's Casey Costello had an open shot that just missed its target. The Pacers would have a number of similar opportunities throughout the remainder of the game.

'I wasn't ever nervous at any point and I was actually kind of shocked that we didn't come away with a win. Sometimes you just run out of time,' Siddons said.

Victoria Lee wreaked havoc in the midfield, something she has done all season. Last week Lee was named the Three Rivers League's player of the year.

Pacer goalie Amanda Griffin turned in another stellar performance keeping the Black Tornado off the board for 87 minutes. Just a few minutes before North Medford's eventual goal, Griffin was kicked in the head diving after a contested ball, which led to a mild concussion but she remained in the game.

'Amanda just got better every time out. She had a great game,' Siddons said.

In front of Griffin, the entire defense performed admirably, particularly Melanie Dean who Siddons credits as being the team's most improved player from last season.

When the final whistle sounded, disappointment set in for the Pacers who formed a very tight bond as a team during the year and Siddons points out that the season was still extraordinarily successful.

'We had a huge turn around this season and battled through a number of injuries. That just goes to show how hard these girls worked,' Siddons said.

Lakeridge managed to win the Civil War series with Lake Oswego once again, earning a tie and a victory in two games and finished just a few points shy of the Three Rivers League title.

The Pacers will have a few holes to fill in 2007 but return, arguably, the most talented core of players in the league.