by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn’s Erika Busch attempts to run past Lake Oswego defender, Lauren Groth. Busch scored the Lions’ first goal of the game last Tuesday, but the Lakers were able to hold on for the 6-5 victory. The loss was West Linn’s first of the season and they will take on Wilson at home next Tuesday.

Anyone who knows girls lacrosse in Oregon probably figured that Lake Oswego wouldn't be down for long. The two-time defending state champion Lakers dropped three of their first four games, including a season-opening 10-3 loss to the Lions.

But despite that lopsided victory earlier, West Linn entered last Tuesday's contest knowing that they were likely in for a dogfight. Those predictions were correct as the teams battled back and forth all evening with Lake Oswego eventually emerging with a 6-5 victory.

'They're a good team. You know you can never underestimate them,' Lions coach Alister Bunch said.

West Linn erased an early deficit and nearly came from two goals down in the closing minutes of the contest to force overtime. However, Lake Oswego dominated the time of possession and won the vast majority of ground balls in the game and that proved to be the difference.

The Lions got off to a slow start as the Lakers won the opening face-off and had the ball for virtually all of the opening seven minutes of play.

'The ground balls are what won that game for them,' Bunch said.

Emily Fuller scored less than two minutes into the game and Jacqueline Reece notched her first tally, less than three minutes later to quickly knock the Lions back on their heels.

Finally, West Linn tightened up its passing and stayed patient on offense, waiting for the best opportunity to score. The Lions' efforts earned a penalty and Erika Busch deposited the ensuing shot to get her team on the board.

The momentum swayed back and forth for the next few minutes as each team played at a methodical pace. With nine minutes to play in the half, West Linn's Keri Robinson made a run from midfield, lost the ball close to the net, but was able to regain possession and scored to cut into the lead once again.

The Lakers focused on defense late in the half as the Lions were able to come up with a number of steals. Solveig Lee had a pair of opportunities from close range, which were saved by Lake Oswego goalie, Kara Williams.

Then, with two minutes to play, Robinson earned an opportunity after a penalty. Her initial shot was blocked but she gathered the rebound and swept the ball into the net, tying the game before the half.

After the break, the Lakers quickly seized momentum again and dominated the early play. Fuller fired a shot off the post before Reece completed her hat trick and gave the Lakers the lead once again.

Less than two minutes later, Jessica DeBlois scored on a pretty assist from Anna Berne and, suddenly, Lake Oswego was firmly in control.

Once again, the Lakers shored up their defense and the Lions struggled to control the ball for extended periods of time.

Lake Oswego continuously double-teamed Lee, focusing much of their defensive efforts on her.

'We have a pretty solid core group of girls so when one player is getting doubled, there are others who step up for us,' Bunch said.

West Linn ran much of its offense in the second half through Robinson and Sarah Normandin but the team struggled to find the net.

Lions goalie Jennifer Kimbrow was solid all evening and helped keep her team in the game until it could eventually mount a rally.

'This is Jennifer's first year playing lacrosse and she's doing an amazing job for us,' Bunch said.

Williams was equally impressive for Lake Oswego as she saved two close range shots by West Linn's Kristen Brown.

Finally, with three and a half minutes to play, Lee ended her scoring drought and scored after a penalty to cut the lead to one goal once again.

However, just a minute later, Fuller knocked in her second goal of the night for the Lakers. Lake Oswego was content playing keep away for the rest of the game and Phoebe Flanigan did a tremendous job winning key ground balls for her team.

However, the Lions came up with another steal and Lee scored once more with 45 seconds to play, setting up an exciting final minute. West Linn played easily its best lacrosse of the evening in the game's final five minutes.

But Lake Oswego won the face-off after Lee's goal and was able to hold off West Linn just long enough to earn the victory.

'It was a great game. A one-point loss to the two-time defending state champs is nothing to be disappointed about,' Bunch said.

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