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Pacer boys hopeful after tough non-league games

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN, 
Lakeridge’s Benton Sauers heads a ball during the Pacers’ 1-0 loss to Lincoln. Lakeridge will host West Linn to open its league schedule.

As expected, the Lakeridge boys soccer team has taken some early lumps in the form of losses, but there is certainly no cause for concern.

In fact, after a 1-1 tie with a physical Wilson team and a 1-0 loss to Lincoln in which the Pacers had the Cardinals on their heels for the final 20 minutes of the game, the team was feeling optimistic heading into league play.

The Pacers saw two PIL teams on back-to-back nights that gave them two very different looks.

In Lakeridge's season opener, it traveled to Wilson and found the Trojans to be uninviting hosts.

The Trojans succeeded in knocking the Pacers off the ball for much of the contest but the game helped prepare Lakeridge for some of the more physical teams it might see in league.

Lakeridge was able to come away with a tie thanks to Nick Wilkins' goal.

Then, last Thursday, the Pacers played a quick and athletic Lincoln team and fell 1-0.

The Cardinals controlled the game early, coming up with most of the good scoring chances in the first half. Lincoln was the aggressor on offense, winning the majority of the 50/50 balls in the early going.

But Lakeridge weathered the storm, thanks mainly to the team's staunch defensive effort. The Pacers appear to have an extremely solid defensive line, the question mark on the season remains whether or not the offense will be able to take advantage of its opportunities.

'The guys need to play with the ball on the ground a little more. We're still really new as a group and we're experimenting with some things,' coach Paul Slover said.

Eight minutes into the second half, Lincoln connected on a perfectly executed cross to take the lead.

But instead of giving the Cardinals momentum, the goal sparked the Pacers. For the final 15 to 20 minutes of the game, Lakeridge dominated, earning a handful of corner kicks that it couldn't quite convert on.

Heading into their league opener at home against West Linn tonight (Thursday) Slover is excited about his team's potential.

'The effort was there tonight. I think we're going to be in a lot of games like that this year and I think if we're able to put in a goal or two per game we'll be in good shape,' Slover said.