It took a heart-breaking loss to prove that the West Linn boys lacrosse team is one of the best in the state.
In an exceptionally well-played defensive struggle, the Lions lost to perennial powerhouse OES 3-2 in triple overtime on Saturday.
According to West Linn coach Mark Flood, the Lions possessed the ball for longer than OES did but, obviously, the decision could have gone either way.
'It was an exceptional game. It really was one of the best games I've been a part of,' Flood said.
The Lions actually took a 2-0 lead in the first half as the defense and particularly the play of goalie Drew Forseth was outstanding.
'He made 15 saves and a number of them were one-on-one. He's being recruited by Dartmouth and he'll definitely want to send a tape from this game,' Flood said.
Spencer Smith got West Linn on the board in the first quarter and Michael Fay gave his team a 2-0 advantage in the second. The Lions likely could have increased that lead had OES goalie Andrew Parker not turned in a terrific performance as well.
'We got good shots but our placement wasn't great against a goalie of that caliber,' Flood said.
OES finally got on the scoreboard late in the first half and the Aardvarks were able to tie the game in third quarter.
If possible, both defenses cracked down even harder in the fourth period. Again West Linn had its chances to regain the lead but couldn't quite break through. The Lions played a very clean game from start to finish and were only whistled for three total penalties.
Tensions rose in the first and second overtime periods as the score stayed tied.
Finally, in the third extra period, OES came up with a fast break opportunity and converted to end the contest.
'The kids were down for a second but they were happy with the effort. They know they played well and could have won,' Flood said.
It was a tough loss for the Lions but one that should ultimately give them confidence. West Linn gave OES a better game than Lake Oswego did earlier in the season and, with a pair of games coming up against the Lakers and Lakeridge, the team is playing some of its best lacrosse of the season.
Those games should prove to be immensely entertaining as the Lions, Lakers and Pacers could all be among the top five in the state.
West Linn got back in the win column on Tuesday night with a convincing 11-2 victory over Riverdale.
'This was always one of those of those games you worry about but the kids reacted very well,' Flood said.
The Lions got off to a quick start until Riverdale switched to a zone defense which temporarily slowed West Linn's attack.
But when the Lions countered with their zone offense, West Linn was back in business and dominated the remainder of the contest.
Both of Riverdale's goals came on man-up opportunities as the Lions were called for 10 penalties.
But West Linn's attack was keyed by Parker Nichol. Nichol routinely found seams in the defense and threaded a handful of terrific passes to set up scoring chances.
'Parker had a great game. He consistently hit the open man. They weren't able to do much against us,' Flood said.
Nichol had one goal and three assists in the game as the Lions' offense dominated the time of possession.
Jeff Janoff, Derek Benson and Smith all had two goals for West Linn and Fay notched a hat trick with three goals of his own.
One of the highlights in the game was when defender Connor Deeks cleared the ball with a run and then buried a pretty shot just under the crossbar.
West Linn takes on Oregon City before a showdown with Lakeridge on April 15.