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WL boys drop tough game to Lakers

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN West Linn’s Alec Nakano, left, moves upfield against Lake Oswego’s Sean Nelson.

The West Linn boys soccer team controlled the first half against Lake Oswego on Tuesday, taking an early 1-0 lead and coming up with a handful of other scoring opportunities.

But a goal in the final 90 seconds of the half by the Lakers seemed to spark the home team and Lake Oswego turned the tide, pulling out a 3-2 victory.

West Linn played with confidence early in the game, controlling possession and earning chances to jump out to a commanding lead.

The Lions dodged a bullet in the opening minutes when a ball was deflected backwards by the defense, over goalie Ryan Harman's head before glancing off the post and out of bounds.

Just 10 minutes into the contest, West Linn got on the board. Hugo Rhoads took the ball in the middle of the field and laid a nice pass to Zach Elhabbassi who got behind the defense on the right side.

Elhabbassi knocked his shot past Lake Oswego's keeper and the Lions were off and running.

A few minutes later the Lions had a golden opportunity to go up 2-0. Rhoads sent a corner kick into the goal box that left the Laker keeper out of position.

But West Linn's shot on the open net was deflected by a defender.

While both teams had plenty of possession in the opposition's territory, the Lions did well to limit many good chances by the Lakers.

With 7:30 left in the half, West Linn earned a free kick just outside the penalty box and Rhoads sent the shot just a few feet wide.

Then, with less than two minutes to play before the break, the Lakers' Kyle Gazzigli got off a well-struck shot that hit the post.

The ball ricocheted to Cody Peterson who put it in the back of the net, energizing the Lakers just before the half.

Lake Oswego opened the second half with a flurry. Harman made a nice save on a well-struck shot and the Lakers were suddenly the team that was winning the majority of the 50/50 balls.

Just a little more than six minutes into the half, Lake Oswego's Andrew Jeffery fired a shot that was partially deflected but found its way into the net, giving the Lakers the lead.

As the contest wore on, the game got more physical and chippy with multiple yellow cards being issued to both squads.

West Linn seemed to turn the momentum of the game again when Rhoads buried a goal in traffic, capping a terrific individual effort to knot the score with 17:28 to play.

But, exactly one minute later, Lake Oswego responded. Gazzigli was tripped up inside the goal box, earning the Lakers a penalty kick.

Jeffery scored the goal, quickly giving the Lakers the lead back.

West Linn's best chance for the remainder of the game came in the closing minutes when Rhoads hit a well-struck free kick that was saved by Lake Oswego's goalie.

It was a disappointing loss for the Lions who were coming off a 1-1 tie against Canby last week.

The team takes on a 3-0 Clackamas squad on the road tonight (Thursday).