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LOs run ends with loss to OES

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Charlie Wagner looks for an opening during last Thursday’s quarterfinal playoff game against OES. Wagner scored both of his team’s goals but it wasn’t enough as OES won 10-2.

The score didn't tell the whole story. Lake Oswego's boys lacrosse team was an underdog heading into last week's quarterfinal showdown at Oregon Episcopal School. The Aardvarks are perennially strong and have had success against the Lakers in the playoffs in the past.

Once again, OES emerged victorious, this time by a 10-2 score, but Lake Oswego was not outmatched as much as the final tally would indicate. In fact, the Lakers stayed close for the better part of three quarters and had just as many shots as the Aardvarks mustered.

The difference was OES's efficiency. The Aardvarks made the most of their opportunities and rode a remarkably stingy defense to victory.

Lake Oswego had possession of the ball for nearly as long as OES did but the Lakers struggled to come up with high-percentage shots. In fact, the team's only two goals were both scored on drives from nearly 20 yards away.

The tone of the game was set early on as the Lakers won possession and got off two quick shots. Charlie Wagner's shot was saved nicely by OES's goalie, which gave the Aardvarks the ball.

OES moved down the field quickly and passed the ball around between its attackmen and, eventually Logan Johnston scored on his team's first shot attempt.

Just over a minute later, after winning the face-off, Michael Gale threaded a pretty pass to Thomas Cool, who gave OES a quick 2-0 lead.

The Lakers were quickly knocked back on their heels but didn't panic. Minutes later, Lars Lider had a shot saved as the ball rolled inches away from the goal line and Blake Heim fired a shot inches wide.

Lake Oswego tightened up its defense and focused on controlling the ball. The team was rewarded for its patience with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. Wagner received a pass from nearly 20 yards away from the net and fired a bullet into the corner, putting his team on the board.

The Lakers felt good only trailing 2-1 after one period and took some momentum into the second stanza. OES goalie Aleks Magi made another stellar save to keep Lake Oswego from tying the game as the Lakers continued to show improved organization on offense.

Midway through the quarter OES called time-out, uncomfortable with the slim lead and, minutes later, Sam Baker scored off of a turnover.

Two minutes later, Kyle Dern scored to give OES a 4-1 lead at the break.

The Aardvarks came out hot in the second half but Lake Oswego's Jordan Barnes kept the game from getting out of hand, saving an early shot from point blank range.

The Aardvarks dominated the opening minutes of the second half, controlling the tempo of the game and yielding very few scoring opportunities for Lake Oswego.

Four minutes into the third quarter, Gale put OES up 5-1 and, with three minutes to play, Dern scored again to put the Aardvarks firmly in control.

But, once again, the Lakers rallied. One minute after OES scored its sixth goal, Wagner received a pass from Lider and scored from almost the same spot on the field that he did in the first quarter.

The goal gave the Lakers some life heading into the final stanza but OES tightened its defense even more, keeping Lake Oswego off the board in the opening minutes.

One of the areas in which the Aardvarks were most dominant was in their ability to contain Lake Oswego's more dangerous players. In earlier games this year, attackmen like Lider, Heim and Sean Silverstein showed the ability to take over for period of time, if not for an entire game.

However, in this game, it was obvious that OES had the Lakers well-scouted. Every time, Lider, Heim or Silverstein touched the ball, they were hounded by multiple defenders and rarely found a decent angle to get off a shot.

Other times, Lake Oswego failed to even get the ball to its most explosive scorers. Still, the Lakers managed to get off a bevy of shots throughout the contest but struggled to find holes or catch a single lucky break.

As the Lakers continued to press, upping their intensity on offense, OES took advantage. Charlie Hartzell scored midway through the quarter to seal the victory.

With three minutes to play, Gale scored again, as OES refused to let up. The Aardvarks scored two more goals in garbage time to make up the final score.

It was a tough way to end the season for the Lakers but the team was content to hang with one of the state's best programs for the majority of the contest.

On the year, Lake Oswego finished with a stellar 14-4 record. Remarkably, all four of those losses came to teams who are currently in the state semifinals.

The Lakers lost a pair of games to Lakeridge, which has yet to lose a game this season. They also lost a midseason contest to Lincoln, which squared off against Lakeridge in the semifinals on Wednesday.

And, last week, Lake Oswego became another victim of OES, another team that is still undefeated this year heading into its semifinal showdown against Churchill.

Although Lake Oswego had a very competitive season this year, the future looks bright as well as the bulk of this year's squad will return in 2008 on a team that could contend for a state title.