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LO boys play well as needed

Those who haven't followed the Lake Oswego boys soccer team this season could have gotten themselves up to speed by watching just one game - last Wednesday's contest against Putnam. In a way, Lake Oswego's 3-2 victory was an abbreviated version of the Lakers' entire season.

For the first 53 minutes, the Lakers thoroughly dominated play and had a 2-0 lead to show for their efforts. At that point, there was little question about which team was better.

But, for the next 15 minutes or so, the Lakers looked like a different team. With a comfortable lead, they became complacent and it opened the door for Putnam to make a comeback.

Then, after the Kingsmen tied the game at 2-2, Lake Oswego became the aggressors again. Their extra efforts led to Jackson Ray's decisive goal with 5:19 left.

The victory, which temporarily moved Lake Oswego past Putnam and into second place in the TRL standings, was made more difficult than it needed to be.

But it seems the Lakers are at their best when they get themselves into a bind. In the process, head coach Fraser Morrison is trying to keep everything in perspective without being too critical.

'I was bit annoyed when we went 2-nil up and I told them to let (Putnam) back in it,' Morrison said in jest. 'We were just trying to scare everyone.'

Of course, Morrison was joking. But the Lakers have a knack for scaring their fans, and even their coach at times.

Those fans looked comfortable and relaxed for most of the first half as the Lakers methodically moved the ball into scoring positions on numerous occasions. Despite a decided advantage in shot attempts, the Lakers had to wait until the 16:17 mark of the first half to score the game's first goal.

It was scored by Ryo Asai on a 30-yard kick that probably should have been stopped by the Putnam goalkeeper. But the ball was kicked so hard that it easily slipped through the goalie's hands and into the net.

It stayed 1-0 until the 27:03 mark of the second half when Lake Oswego's Troy Hall scored off a rebound after the Putnam goalie had saved an earlier shot by the Lakers.

That two-goal lead didn't last long, however. The Kingsmen made it 2-1 two just minutes later when Nick Card scored on a 35-yard header. It was almost an accidental goal as Card seemed to be passing the ball to a teammate who was near the goal. But the header was placed perfectly, just out of the reach of Lake Oswego goalie Tommy Olen.

Ten minutes later, Putnam tied the game when Drue Harris drilled a 35-yard kick into the left corner of the net. The ball was struck with so much pace that the Lake Oswego goalie never really had a chance to stop it.

And, suddenly, the game was tied after Lake Oswego had been in control almost the entire way.

'You get a couple of goals up and the mind relaxes … and the decision-making isn't great,' Morrison said of the factors that contributed to Putnam's comeback. 'Then, you give them a goal … and everything that happened before, that kind of goes out the window. And before you know it, you have a battle on your hands.'

But rather than feel sorry for themselves, the Lakers decided to re-assert themselves.

Shortly after Putnam's equalizer, Lake Oswego's Joseph Ginn had a good look from close range. But he wound up getting buried in a sea of defenders and couldn't finish the shot.

Lake Oswego's next good opportunity came when a ball got away from a Putnam player near midfield and Ray wound up with it. He quickly dribbled past the last Kingsmen defender, which left the goalkeeper as the last line of defense.

At about 18 yards, Ray saw an opening to the left and he pulled up and drilled a laser past the goalie.

'Jackson is a very good player,' Morrison said. 'He's been a little bit inconsistent recently with the number of chances he's had. But (his ability) is why you leave a player like that on the field … He can do in a very short period of time what it takes other players a couple of games to do.'