Sunset shows it's not going to back down no matter what
WILSONVILLE - Lincoln may have come into Saturday night's OHSLA state championship game expecting a coronation, but the Cardinals very nearly got something very different.
The Columbia Conference champion Cardinals rolled into Saturday's game at Wilsonville High School on the tail end of a 20-game winning streak and seeking a third consecutive state championship.
But instead of a coronation, Lincoln very nearly saw itself the victim of a coup at the hands of underdog Sunset.
The Apollos entered Saturday's game carrying a modest seven-game winning streak after finishing third in the Metro League, but despite that, Sunset played like it expected to to knock the Cardinals off their pedestal, and proved right from the opening face-off that it just might.
The Apollos made their first play for power just seven seconds into Saturday's championship game to grab a 1-0 lead, then scored again 1:49 later to move in front 2-0 and send shudders through the halls of power at Lincoln.
Lincoln, the two-time defending state champ (both of its earlier title wins also came at the Apollos' expense) wasn't going to give up power easily, though. The Cardinals answered with a pair of their own goals before the end of the first period, but Sunset showed that it was more than ready to battle the Cardinals to the very end on Saturday night.
A year ago, that wasn't case. In 2011, the Apollos raced out to a 4-1 first-quarter lead and took a 6-5 lead into the half. But Lincoln just flat blitzed the Apollos in the third period, ripping off a 13-2 advantage in the quarter that powered its 18-10 victory and second straight state championship.
The Cardinals fell behind at halftime again on Saturday, this time by a 7-5 margin, and again came back strong in the third period. This time, however, Lincoln's third-quarter edge was much more humble - the Cardinals scored four straight goals to lead 7-5 with 12 minutes left in the state championship - and Sunset's response was much more aggressive.
'They're a good team,' said Sunset senior goalie Collin Peters. 'If they're on offense an entire quarter, they're going to score goals.'
While the Apollos wilted under Lincoln's assault a year ago, Sunset came back strong on Saturday. The Apollos cut the gap to a single goal with 6:48 left in the contest, and from there, Lincoln was happy - probably very, very happy - to just play keep-away from Sunset for most of the next six minutes.
Even then, after the Cardinals had run the clock down to the final minute, Sunset came back strong again to keep its upset hopes alive. The Apollos created two shots on goal in the final 36 seconds - both stopped by Lincoln's keeper and defense - before the Cardinals could finally lay claim to their third straight state crown by a 7-6 margin.
'They just got mad' in the third quarter, said Sunset senior Cole Abdie. 'But they'll give us more credit now, more credit than we've been given throughout the year. We kept getting it done. I'm proud of how it turned out.'
To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.