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Laker boys take third after loss

For a playoff bound team, it's never a good idea to end the regular season with a 5-0 loss.

That's what the Lake Oswego boys soccer team did last Thursday in a key TRL contest against Clackamas. Lake Oswego coach Fraser Morrison wasn't too concerned, though. He saw it as a classic example of a team looking ahead to the postseason.

'Maybe in the backs in everyone's minds, since they've made the playoffs, they think the job is done,' Morrison said.

'I said to them at halftime, 'we looked as though we were a team playing for fifth or sixth position'… But some of them were a little mistaken.'

By intermission, Lake Oswego had already dug itself into a 3-0 hole. It almost seemed impossible, considering the circumstances.

If the Lakers had won the game, they would have finished second in the TRL. Instead, they finished third, which means a road game in the first round of the playoffs rather than a home game. The Lakers also had an outside chance of winning the league title with a victory over Clackamas.

In the previous meeting between these two teams, Clackamas had a 3-1 halftime lead but Lake Oswego dominated the second half and salvaged a 3-3 tie. So, Lake Oswego had to be hoping for a similar turnaround this time.

Morrison was also waiting for that comeback. But he started having his doubts after Mario Negrete scored to make it 4-1 early in the second half. When Shafer Meyer added another goal a while later to make it 5-0, it seemed that Lake Oswego could do nothing to help its cause.

'We even had four forwards at one stage. But, tonight, even that wasn't doing the trick,' Morrison said.

'If you can't score when you've got four forwards, you just hope the game clock winds to zero as quickly as possible so you can get out of here,' the coach added.

And who could blame him?

The Lakers know they're a much better team than the one that showed up last Thursday. At times during the season, they looked good enough to compete with anyone in the state.

But the Lakers can be so unpredictable, you can never be sure which Lake Oswego team will show up.

'That's what we love about them,' Morrison quipped.

From an optimist's point of view, the timing of last Thursday's loss was good. The Lakers got their one bad game out of their system before the playoffs started.

'That's why it's good to have this happen now,' the coach said. 'You just hope that you've gotten it all out of the way.'

At least the Lakers are going to the playoffs. Last year, the team was unable to rebound from a slow start and never made it to the postseason. So, it's understandable if the Lakers were thinking last Thursday about what lies ahead.

'(The playoffs) will be the adventure that we didn't have last year,' Morrison said.

The Lakers will open the playoffs Saturday at Canby. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

The Lakeridge boys soccer team, meanwhile, claimed another TRL title with last Thursday's 7-2 victory over Milwaukie. The Pacer boys will open the playoffs with a home game against Centennial at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

There shouldn't be too much concern over the Pacers' ability to score in the playoffs. They led the state with 70 goals, and forward Eric DeStefano had approximately one-half of those goals, Lakeridge coach Paul Slover figures.

The biggest question is what will happen now that goalkeeper Jason Dodson has been sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

Slover spent a portion of this week's practice time trying out three possible replacements for Dodson. That contingent includes Dylan McKenzie and Ben Silbert, who played on the junior varsity squad this year, and James Higgins, who had initially decided to sit out this season to concentrate on basketball.

With the change in personnel, Slover has decided to take a new approach into the playoffs.

'We're kind of changing our attitude,' he said. 'We're really focusing on defense.'

It's hard to make major adjustments just as the playoffs are starting, but Slover isn't too worried about his squad.

'It just makes things more interesting,' he said. 'We're just hoping the keeper will make the saves he's supposed to make.'

Even with a new goalie, the Pacers should be favored to beat Centennial. Slover certainly isn't worried about his team's ability to play well.

'I've been doing this too long to be nervous,' the coach said. 'I think the players will step up to support the kid who has the courage to step between the pipes in this situation.'

It's the latest development in what has been an unusual season for the Pacers, who are ranked second in the state despite a pair of losses and a tie in league play.

'It's still been a very good season … but we're really a little over-rated,' Slover said.

'The positive is, we know what we can do in the playoffs.'

The Lakeridge girls soccer team also could be a force in the playoffs. After suffering through a mid-season slump, the Pacers recovered nicely to finish third in the TRL.

'We're doing a lot of good things … which is what you want going into the playoffs,' Lakeridge coach Ryann Furrer said after her team's 8-1 win over Milwaukie in the regular season finale last Thursday.

Even though Furrer plays several younger players, the Pacers still have plenty of post-season experience. Ten players on the roster, including six seniors, saw action in last year's playoffs.

'I think we've got a good balance of playoff experience and youthful energy,' the coach said.

The Pacers will start the playoffs with a Saturday game at Sunset. Furrer knows the Apollos have a good goalkeeper and they're strong in the middle.

'I think they're a good match-up for us,' Furrer said. 'But I think we have the ability to do well.

'… The good thing about the playoffs is anything can happen. But the bad thing about the playoffs is anything can happen,' the coach added.

The Lake Oswego girls team found out that anything can happen in the regular season as well. The Lakers had not lost a game all season until last Thursday's 1-0 setback against Clackamas.

That was enough to knock the Lakers out of a first-place tie with the Cavs and into sole possession of second place. Despite the loss, Lake Oswego coach Dominic Yambasu didn't find much to complain about.

'I'm not totally disappointed because the girls played very well,' the coach said. 'They had several (scoring) opportunities. They just couldn't put them away.'

It's surprising that the Lakers didn't score in that game, but the Cavs did a good job of bottling up Lake Oswego's frontline players, especially Mady Johnson, who often found herself double-teamed.

After seeing the way his team played late in the regular season, Yambasu is confident that a good playoff showing will follow.

'I'm looking forward to the playoffs. I think they're going to do very well,' Yambasu said earlier this week. 'When we have our game together, we believe we can play with any team in the state.'

The first test will come tonight (Thursday) when the Lakers host West Salem, the No. 4 seed from the Valley League, at 5 p.m.