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LO boys suffer 1st league loss

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Lake Oswego’s Kyle Gazzigli, right, holds off West Linn defender Taylor Hefty in the Lakers’ game with the Lions on Tuesday.

The Lake Oswego boys soccer team lost just its first league game of the year on Tuesday 2-1 to West Linn but, unfortunately for the Lakers, it was enough to cripple their chances at a league title.

Heading into the game, Lake Oswego trailed Clackamas by three points and West Linn by just one in the standings.

Now the team needs a strong finish to clinch a spot in the top-three and an automatic playoff berth.

Tuesday's game resembled the first meeting between these two teams in which Lake Oswego gave the Lions their only league loss this year. West Linn led early and the Lakers were playing catch-up for much of the contest but were able to rally for the win.

On Tuesday Lake Oswego's comeback attempt came up just short as a disallowed goal in the contest's final minute sealed the Lions' win.

West Linn made a concerted effort to slow down Lake Oswego's Andrew Jeffery in this game as Jeffery torched them earlier in the year.

However, he was still able to create space and set up scoring chances.

The Lions got off to a good start in the game and controlled much of the first half.

West Linn scored with 6:30 left in the half. After Owen Madin made a great save on a shot by the Lions' star Hugo Rhoads, tipping it out of bounds, Rhoads took the corner kick and curved it into the net.

But Lake Oswego would respond just three minutes later.

The Lakers earned a free kick from outside the goal box and Jeffery buried it into the top corner of the net.

He also had two hard shots that were saved early in the second half as the Lakers looked to build momentum.

Ryan Favero also had a good chance for Lake Oswego but fired wide and Kyle Gazzigli knocked an open shot over the top.

West Linn regained the lead when Rhoads beat two defenders but was then tripped up in the box.

A penalty kick was awarded and Rhoads scored it easily with 29 minutes remaining.

"Hugo's a great player. It's not hard to identify him as dangerous but we couldn't contain him for a full 80 minutes," coach Fraser Morrison said.

To Lake Oswego's credit, the team dominated the final 15 minutes of the game.

West Linn dropped players back on defense and the Lakers held the ball for the majority of that time.

However, the Lions were comfortable to knock the ball forward and out of bounds and the Lakers struggled to keep the ball in play to set up scoring chances.

The game also got more physical in the second half with multiple penalties given to both teams.

Lake Oswego earned two free kicks late in the game deep in West Linn territory but couldn't convert on either of them.

"I wish the intensity we showed in the final 10 to 15 minutes would have been there all game. It might have been a different outcome," Morrison said.

With less than a minute to play Lake Oswego got off a dangerous shot that was saved by West Linn's keeper. The ball was then knocked into the net and the Lakers celebrated what appeared to be a dramatic goal.

But the referee was quick to call it off, calling a penalty on the Lakers for interfering with the goalie.

"We shouldn't have been in a position where the game came down to a call. Even if we'd earned a draw that wasn't what we wanted out of this game," Morrison said.

Lake Oswego has two big games remaining. The Lakers play Lakeridge again tonight (Thursday) at 5:30 p.m. and face league-leading Clackamas next week.