by: VERN UYETAKE Claire Offer looks to corral a ground ball in West Linn’s semifinal loss to Lake Oswego. The Lions picked up two road wins to reach the semis.

The West Linn girls lacrosse team announced its return to prominence during the state tournament this year. The Lions, a young and steadily improving team, embarked on a fantastic run, picking up a pair of dramatic road victories to make the semifinals before falling to league rival Lake Oswego.

West Linn opened up the playoffs by making a trip south to Corvallis.

Corvallis won its league this year and entered the postseason with just one loss. But the Lions proved that it pays to be battle-tested. After finishing third in the grueling Three Rivers League, West Linn was up to the challenge and it showed early on.

It was a back and forth game and West Linn's Alexy DaHarb had a terrific showing on offense. She poured in five goals and added an assist and Annie Longtain scored twice and had two assists.

West Linn fell behind early but a run of nine unanswered goals broke the game open in the Lions' favor.

Connie Swanson and Megan Longtain also each scored twice for West Linn as the Lions became the only No. 3 seed from any league to advance out of the first round.

'It was definitely a fun road trip and Corvallis has some loud fans,' coach Meg Elston said.

The Lions then took on Liberty at Hillsboro Stadium with renewed confidence. West Linn played one of its best games of the year against a strong Liberty squad that was coming off a win against OES in the opening round.

It took a total team effort from West Linn and the Lions kept their composure in the final minutes to grind out another 12-10 win in the quarterfinals.

Liberty's defense found it difficult to focus on anyone in particular to stop. The Lions spread the wealth on offense, getting goals from six different players.

'Both teams are pretty similar and it was a battle but I think our ability to spread the ball around helped us,' Elston said.

Megan Longtain and Mariah Gatti each notched hat tricks while DaHarb and Swanson both scored twice. West Linn's efficiency on offense allowed the team to hang on for a win and a trip to the semifinals.

The Lions' victory also meant that three of the four teams to make the semifinals happened to be from the Three Rivers League.

West Linn's next opponent was Lake Oswego, a team that had knocked off the Lions twice in the regular season.

In the first meeting between the teams, the Lions got off to a very fast start before Lake Oswego rebounded. But, in this game, it was the Lakers who were hot to start off, jumping out to a five-goal advantage to put West Linn in an deficit it couldn't recover from.

'They came out really strong and it was an atmosphere we weren't used to playing in,' Elston said.

Lake Oswego was determined to get back to the finals and played with confidence in a 20-9 win.

Despite the loss in the semifinals, this marked West Linn's most successful season in a number of years and, with a good portion of this year's team set to return, the Lions should be able to build on this season next spring.

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