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Lions open league with key win

by: Vern Uyetake Jackson Brooke shields a Lakeridge defender in Tuesday’s victory. Brooke had the go-ahead goal for the Lions in the second half.

The West Linn boys soccer team couldn't have gotten off to a much better start in league. The Lions went on the road and knocked off a talented Lakeridge team 3-1, controlling the majority of the contest.

West Linn's defense kept the Pacers' dangerous forwards in check and the Lions pulled away in the second half for an important early victory.

The Lions jumped out to an early lead, getting a goal roughly 15 minutes into the game.

Max Dimm played a ball deep into Lakeridge territory that Robert Mollusky tracked down and passed to Hugo Rhoads.

Rhoads then hammered the shot home to put the Lions on top.

West Linn was in charge for most of the first half but a mistake just before the break threatened to give the Pacers the momentum for the final 40 minutes.

With just two minutes left in the opening half West Linn gave up a free kick from just outside the box that was sent in front of the Lions' net and knocked in.

"We didn't cover our front post and it was one of those plays where it was obvious that we're still growing," coach Greg Bean said.

The second half went back and forth with the teams trading scoring chances but West Linn's back line bottled up Lakeridge's forwards for the most part.

Dimm had a terrific showing, marking the Pacers' top scoring threat and freshman Blake Hepburn was equally solid.

Ryan Harman was also strong in goal for West Linn, turning away numerous corner kicks by the Pacers.

The Lions controlled possession for the majority of the game which was partly because of the play of Alec Nakano in the midfield.

"Lakeridge is a team that likes to transition quickly and move the ball up front and we were able to keep the ball away from them. Alec really stepped up and had just a fantastic game," Bean said.

With the score still tied late in the game, West Linn regained control.

With about 10 minutes to play, Lakeridge made a mistake clearing the ball and Jackson Brooke found himself with possession with the Pacers' goalie out of position.

Brooke hit a well-placed shot from 18 yards out to put the Lions back on top.

"That was really a game changer," Bean said.

Lakeridge then committed more of its players up front as it looked for the equalizer but instead the Lions were able to tack on some insurance.

Rhoads played a nice cross to Zach Elhabbassi who scored and put the game away.

"Hugo really involved everybody and took control of the game," Bean said.

The Lions were coming off a 1-0 loss to Southridge last week but it was a loss that instilled confidence in the team.

West Linn gave up the lone goal on a miscue but hung with a very strong Skyhawks team and was energized by a loud home crowd.

"It really was a playoff atmosphere and the guys fed off that. We're hoping we can get that kind of support every game," Bean said.

The Lions will take on Canby tonight (Thursday).