The Lions get a win and a draw against two strong teams to close out the first half of league play

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn freshman Juliana Guthner clears a ball in the Lions' 1-1 draw against Clackamas on Tuesday. Heading into what should be a wild second half, the West Linn girls soccer team may have more momentum than anyone else in the league.

After a two-game losing streak, the Lions rallied to give Lakeridge its only league loss this year last week and then tied Clackamas 1-1 in a game where they had multiple opportunities to pick up the win in the second half.

On Thursday, West Linn ground out an impressive 2-0 win over the Pacers, who currently sit in first place in the league.

The Lions didn't let an abbreviated warm-up time get to them as they matched Lakeridge's aggressiveness from the opening whistle.

West Linn got on the board first when Juliana Guthner knocked in a loose ball following a dangerous cross into the goal box.

Lakeridge had opportunities to score but the Lions did well to limit the Pacers' chances and contained their dangerous scorers.

West Linn took firm control of the game when Madison Leek continued her tear with another goal in the second half to make it 2-0.

“We played with a lot of heart and really didn't let the other team dictate how we played. It was the first game where I saw us start to jell as a team,” coach Holly Popenuk said.

The game got physical and chippy in the final 20 minutes but the Lions held firm and preserved the shut out for what was their biggest win of the season so far.

West Linn then traveled to Clackamas to take on an equally physical Cavaliers team on Tuesday.

The Lions couldn't have asked for a much better start. Just 30 seconds into the contest, Leek received the ball and scored a perfectly-placed shot to the lower corner of the net.

However, Clackamas would go on to control much of the remainder of the first half.

“Sometimes when you score that early you have a tendency to let down and that's kind of what happened,” Popenuk said.

The Cavaliers would get the equalizer midway through the half on a counter-attack and the game was tied 1-1 at the break.

The Lions rallied in the second half and the teams went back and forth. West Linn had multiple chances to knock in the go-ahead goal, hitting the crossbar once and the goalpost on another attempt.

“Their goalie also made a few incredible saves. We felt like we should have put it away but it was a good game by both teams,” Popenuk said.

In the end, West Linn would settle for a hard-earned draw to move to 2-2-1 in league but positioned well for a second-half run.

The Lions will take on winless Oregon City tonight (Thursday) before playing Lake Oswego next Tuesday.

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