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Pacer boys clear first two hurdles in playoff chase

by: Vern Uyetake, Members of the Lakeridge boys soccer team celebrate after scoring a goal during Tuesday’s playoff against Roseburg. The Pacers overcame a thick layer of fog to win the game 2-0.

At times, it seemed like Lakeridge's 2-0 victory over Roseburg on Tuesday was on a tape delay. The fog that descended on Lakeridge High School was so thick that, often, it took a few seconds to figure out exactly what happened.

In the end, the Pacers escaped from the dangerous game with the victory to advance to the quarterfinals. There were big hugs after the game because, despite the fact that Lakeridge hammered Roseburg earlier in the season, the conditions and the injury to goalie Jason Dodson made this a difficult early-round match-up.

'The boys played well but I was worried. You couldn't see anything and it's soccer. All it takes is one fluke to beat you,' Pacer coach Paul Slover said.

Lakeridge got off to a slow start adjusting to the poor visibility and the physical nature of the game. The referees called a loose contest and defense dominated the first 40 minutes.

The Pacers had a few chances off of corner kicks early on but the teams played evenly for the first 10 minutes.

After that, Lakeridge started to dominate. However, despite controlling the ball in Roseburg's territory, the Indians played solid defense and didn't allow the Pacers to turn and get off uncontested shots.

'For (Roseburg) to make this a difficult game for us, you have to give them kudos,' Slover said.

As a result, Lakeridge had nine shots in the first half but none on goal.

Meanwhile, the Pacers continued to concentrate their efforts on defense to give up as few shots as possible. Roseburg got off one first-half shot and it was saved by goalie James Higgins.

The game was scoreless at the half but the Pacers still liked the way they were playing.

'I thought we were playing well. We just needed to be a little more effective,' Slover said.

Seven minutes into the second half, Lakeridge earned a free kick and Facundo Dipascuale sent it into the box. The ball was deflected, bounced off the post and was sent back in front of the net before Nick Wilkins headed it in.

Dipascuale had a solid game while setting up opportunities for the Pacers.

Lakeridge's dominance on Roseburg's side of the field is evident in the fact that the Pacers had 12 corner kicks on the night, compared to just one for the Indians.

Midway through the second half, the Pacers appeared to score again on a cross that was knocked in by Eric DeStefano but the referee called offsides.

It certainly didn't get Lakeridge down, however. The Pacers quickly regained possession after the ensuing free kick and, just 18 seconds after the goal was called back, DeStefano scored on an assist by Dipascuale, giving Lakeridge some insurance.

The Pacers continued to dominate possession for the remainder of the game and only gave up six shots all night. Micah Joyner and Josh Little each had good shots that narrowly missed but Lakeridge was content to simply play keep-away until the final whistle.

'It was a good opponent and tough conditions to play in so I'm very happy with the result,' Slover said.

The Pacers move on to face Tualatin on Saturday.