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Pacers need comeback to advance to semifinals

by: John Hoch, Goalie Warren Nielson makes a stick save in last week’s narrow victory over Southridge. Nielson, playing in place of injured Jonny Internicola, had another solid game as Lakeridge advanced to the semifinals.

Southridge was six minutes away from shutting out Lake Oswego teams from the boys lacrosse semifinals.

The Skyhawks held a 9-6 lead midway through the final quarter and had the defending champion Pacers on the ropes.

But Lakeridge was able to summon some of the magic left behind by previous Pacer teams and pulled off an impressive comeback for the 11-10 victory.

'That's always been a trademark of Lakeridge is the team's refusal to lose and I think that kicked in,' Pacer coach Curt Sheinin said.

The team's rally started with Jeff Garrett's work on face-offs.

The midfielder helped his team gain possession and the Pacers' defense rose to the challenge.

On offense, Southridge understandably keyed on Lakeridge's dangerous attackman Andrew Clayton and held him to just one goal in the contest.

But that left opportunities for James Higgins. Higgins tossed in three of his team's final four goals.

With the game tied at 10-10, the Pacers regained possession and scored with just over a minute to play in the game.

'The guys stepped up and realized that if they didn't, the season was over,' Sheinin said.

Lakeridge outplayed the Skyhawks for the majority of the contest but a disastrous third quarter nearly cost the team the game.

The Pacers held a slim 5-4 advantage at the half and then Southridge came out of the break to score four straight goals.

'We really didn't play well in the third quarter and that's something we really need to work on. We still haven't played a game where we've been good for all four quarters,' Sheinin said.

Lakeridge was shut out in the quarter and was held scoreless for nearly 20 minutes of play.

However, as it has done many times this year, when the team finally started to click, it was difficult to stop.

Sophomore goalie Warren Nielson, who had seen limited varsity time prior to the playoffs, continues to be a bright spot for Lakeridge.

'He's done everything we could have hoped for,' Sheinin said.

For the game, Higgins led Lakeridge with four goals, freshman Michael Hoch continued his strong postseason with three goals while Clayton and Conor Ryan each had a goal.

'(Southridge) definitely gave us a challenge. We knew they'd be physical and they have a solid goalie,' Sheinin said.

Also scoring for the Pacers was defender Anthony Marincovich who made a superb run from deep in his own territory to tally a goal in the first half.

The win propelled Lakeridge into the state semifinals where they took on a familiar foe on Wednesday.

The Pacers squared off against OES, a team it is used to seeing in the finals. Results were not available at press time.

The state championship game will be held at West Linn High School on Saturday.