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Tough loss brings out the best in Lady Lions

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Sarah Normandin looks to get off a shot against Lakeridge during Tuesday’s 17-4 win. Normandin had four goals in the game.

As witnessed last week, it's probably not a good idea to get the West Linn girls lacrosse team angry. The Lions flexed their muscles against a pair of league opponents after suffering a heart-breaking 6-5 loss to Oregon City and appear to be playing some of their best lacrosse of the season following the disappointment.

West Linn pounded Tigard 18-1 last week and then upended Lakeridge 17-4 on Tuesday, leaving them in a good position for the playoffs and with the potential to at least tie for the league title.

Against the Pioneers, a brief lapse cost the Lions dearly. After a well-played first half that was ruled by defense, West Linn came out of the break sluggish.

As a result, Oregon City broke a 1-1 tie and reeled off five unanswered goals to seemingly put the game out of reach since West Linn's offense had been quiet for the entire contest.

But the Lions responded and took control of the game at that point. The Pioneers' offense was shut down fueling West Linn's attack.

West Linn tallied four unanswered goals of its own, two by Solveig Lee, one by Erika Busch and another by Sara Johnson.

Suddenly, the Lions were one goal down with little time remaining in the game. West Linn received possession again and Sarah Normandin started a run towards the goal but, in the process, off-setting penalties were called, leading to a face-off.

'We were really close to tying it up and sending it into overtime,' West Linn coach Alister Bunch said.

During this time the remaining few seconds on the clock ticked away giving the game to Oregon City.

It was only the Lions' second loss of the season and both have been by just a single goal. Still, it was hard for the girls to be too down on themselves after nearly rallying from a five-goal deficit.

'I was so proud of the way we battled back. There is no doubt in my mind that we can compete with anybody,' Bunch said.

It didn't take long for West Linn to get back in the win column either. In their next game against Tigard, Lee put on a show scoring six goals and tallying five assists in the 18-1 win.

Lee has been the team's most consistent offensive weapon this year and has scored at least two goals in every game she's played in this year.

'Solveig's been amazing recently but the neat thing is that we have a number of weapons and we do a great job spreading the ball around,' Bunch said.

That set up a showdown with Lakeridge on Tuesday. The Pacers have traditionally been a powerhouse in girls lacrosse but have struggled this season with a young team.

West Linn was dominant again and, after a somewhat slow start they cruised past Lakeridge 17-4. The opening few minutes of the contest went back and forth and the game was knotted as 2-2 early on.

The Lions took a 7-3 lead into the half and made sure that another letdown was out of the question.

West Linn upped its play in the second stanza and dominated the Pacers even more thoroughly, only yielding one more goal for the remainder of the game.

'It's important for these girls to make a statement to themselves,' Bunch said.

Lee led the Lions once again with five goals and an assist while Normandin scored four times.

Keri Robinson added three goals and Kristin Brown and Busch each scored twice. Also getting on the board in the second half for the Lions was freshman Brittany Spurgeon, who was playing in her first varsity game.

'The girls really want this. They now how important each win is because every game affects the playoffs,' Bunch said.

The victories gave West Linn a boost of confidence as the team hits the midway point of the season. Next up for the Lions is an away game against Westview on Monday but West Linn has its sights set on May 2.

That's when the Lions will get another shot at Oregon City and the game will be played on West Linn's home field. The Lions will also take on Tigard and Lakeridge again before the end of the regular season.

'May is definitely a big month for us. The girls are really having fun right now and in all my years of coaching this is the most cohesive team I've seen,' Bunch said.