After losing last week to Lake Oswego, we now know that the Lakeridge boys soccer is not invincible. It might even have been a good thing for Lakeridge to lose that game.
Since that loss, the Pacers have played with more purpose and greater focus on the task at hand. Lakeridge demonstrated that by beating previously unbeaten Clackamas 4-1 last Thursday. The Pacers followed that effort by beating Milwaukie 8-0 on Tuesday.
'We've definitely played more like ourselves since that (Lake Oswego) loss,' Lakeridge coach Paul Slover said of his troops.
Lake Oswego made things hard on the Pacers by changing its defense, especially against star striker Eric DeStefano, who was held scoreless in that game. Since then, neither DeStefano or the Pacers have had much trouble figuring out opposing defenses.
Against the Cavs, DeStefano scored a pair of goals, as did Facundo Dipascuale. DeStefano followed that effort by scoring three times against Milwaukie. John Martin, Jared Martin, Taylor Thompson, Dipascuale and Nick Wilkins each had a goal against the Mustangs.
Nobody expected Lakeridge to have much trouble against Milwaukie, so it's hard to judge how well Lakeridge played in that game. But there's no questioning the Pacers' impressive effort against previously unbeaten Clackamas.
'We definitely played better than we did (against Lake Oswego),' Slover said.
'But we've got to prove ourselves every game … I think we proved that, if we don't take care of ourselves, we're susceptible. I think it was a valuable lesson we learned.'
It's good that Lakeridge learned that lesson now instead of in the playoffs, Slover said. For that, the coach is almost grateful for Lake Oswego's help in the matter.
'It's turning out to be a good thing because of the way the guys have reacted,' Slover said.
'(The loss) was not inspiring, but it gave us knowledge,' the coach added. 'We now know we have to stay focused … and we have to play to have fun.'
With Tuesday's victory, Lakeridge stayed three points ahead of second-place Putnam. And they're now four points ahead of Lake Oswego and Clackamas, who played to a 3-3 tie on Tuesday.