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Lakers ready to challenge

Lake Oswego's Peter Lamb wasn't sure what to expect this year after graduating several stars from last year's boys lacrosse team that advanced to the state semifinals.

Initially, Lamb was skeptical of his chances of matching last year's lofty status. Now, he's thinking he might have his most well-balanced team in the three years he's been at Lake Oswego.

'Last year, we relied a lot on individual talent,' Lamb noted. 'This year, we really don't need to … Everybody has been just plugging in and doing their jobs.'

Everyone has been doing their jobs well enough that the Lakers are off to a 3-0 start, including a 7-6 overtime victory over highly-touted Sunset.

The Lakers do have one player - freshman Blake Heim - who could become a superstar. He certainly played like one while scoring 13 goals in the team's first three games.

Lamb has been raving about Heim's talents and his potential, but he's equally excited about the way a number of other players have stepped up to fill key roles for the Lakers. Most of those other players don't have a significant amount of varsity experience, but it's hard to tell from the way they're playing, the coach said.

That group includes senior midfielder Lars Lider, attackmen Sean Silverstein and Charlie Hanson, midfielders Charlie Wagner and Matt Tellam and defensemen Eric Johnson, Nate Morse and Brendan Lake.

'They're all very coachable and we're pleasantly surprised how cohesive they are as a team,' Lamb said.

Despite his team's fast start, Lamb isn't really sure what to expect from this team. In fact, 'I don't think they know how good they can be.'

But another run to the final four certainly would be within the realm of possibility, the coach said.

'But I don't want to look too far ahead,' he said. 'We just want to win the Three Rivers.'

Hold it. Winning the Three Rivers League might be tougher than advancing to the final four. That's because Lakeridge, the two-time defending state champion, also is in the TRL, and so is West Linn, which also has a legitimate chance to make the semis.

But Lamb won't back down from his belief that a league title is within reach for the Lakers.

'Absolutely,' he said.

But he does admit that 'we have the toughest league in the state by far.' And he's also quick to give the rival Pacers their due.

'They're the champs and they're the champs for a reason,' Lamb said.

But the Lake Oswego coach loves the position his team is in, and he loves the fact that many of the other teams in the state still think the Lakers will be mediocre this year.

'We're so young (with only four seniors) that we could be the underdogs in most games,' Lamb suggested. 'I think a lot of teams believe that this is going to be a re-building year for us.'

Maybe they really meant to say that this would be a re-loading year.

'I think it's the best team we've had here … and it's showing up early in the season,' the coach said.

Against Sunset, the Lakers showed that they're not only good but also capable of rallying from a late deficit. They trailed the Apollos 6-4 heading into the final period. Then Heim scored the tying goal in the final seconds of regulation, and the momentum continued through the overtime.

The biggest test, though, will come next Friday, April 6, when Lake Oswego travels to Lakeridge. Lamb has had that game circled on his schedule for some time now.