The Lakeridge boys lacrosse team earned a spot in the Final Four once again, fending off a spirited second-half comeback by OES to hold on for an 11-9 victory.
The Pacers appeared like they might cruise into the semifinals dominating the Aardvarks for the entirety of the first half. Lakeridge led 5-0 after the first quarter and 7-1 at the break and appeared well on their way to a rematch with Sunset.
As they have done more than once this season, the Pacers got off to a blistering start. Lakeridge scored seemingly at will in the first quarter and dominated possession. The Pacers were stellar on face-offs in the early going as Garrison Petrie put together one of his best performances of the season.
A goal by Johnny Clayton made it 3-0 less than six minutes into the game and Blake Dutton and Clayton would score 20 seconds apart later in the period to build a 5-0 advantage.
"We just took it to them. I honestly don't think we could have played any better," coach Curt Sheinin said.
That momentum would carry over into the second period. While the scoring didn't come as fast and furious as it did in the opening minutes, the Pacers were still firmly in control.
Clayton and Dutton each scored in quick succession again to make it a 7-0 lead before OES finally found some footing. The Aardvarks scored their first goal with one minute left in the half and that would prove to be a turning point in the game.
OES slowly started to claw back in the game in the third quarter. The contest became much more evenly matched and OES finally began to have some success against the stingy Lakeridge defense.
"Lacrosse is such a game of momentum. We've seen this before where we get a little flat-footed and OES took advantage of it. Early on we were scoring so quickly that we played a lot of defense and I think we got a little worn out," Sheinin said.
But the Pacers were still able to keep OES at an arm's length.
Lakeridge led 10-5 after the third quarter but got two important second-half goals from unexpected places.
Long stick midfielder Roy Jarman went the length of the field on a clear to score and defender Dylan Patterson also notched a goal.
"Those were both huge goals for us," Sheinin said.
The Aardvarks closed within two goals on more than one occasion but, with their backs against the wall, the Pacers were ready to respond with a big goal.
"I was getting a little nervous but we always seemed to come up with an answer," Sheinin said.
When the final whistle sounded, Lakeridge had held on for an impressive win and now moves on to play at the old Oregon City High School, this year's home for the Final Four.
The Pacers played their semifinal game on Wednesday night against Sunset but results were not available at press time.