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Lincoln girls deny LO shot at title

Lakers score first, but the Cardinals eventually dominate their state semifinal game

For a while, the underdog Lake Oswego girls soccer team was visualizing a trip to Saturday's state title game. Then, realty set in.

Despite being out-shot 10-1, the Lakers held a 1-0 lead against unbeaten Lincoln with 30 minutes remaining in Tuesday's state semifinal game. Then, in a period of five minutes and 16 seconds, Lincoln exploded for three goals.

That's all it took. Lincoln then played keep-away for the next 24 minutes and settled for a 3-1 victory. The Cardinals will now meet Central Catholic on Saturday for the state championship.

Understandably, the Lakers thought for a while that they might be headed to the season's final game.

'That's exactly what we thought at halftime,' Lake Oswego junior midfielder Lauren Duin said after the game. 'When we came back on the field, we thought, 'it's just 40 more minutes and we've got this.' '

From the opening kickoff, the Cardinals controlled the time of possession battle, which led to a whopping advantage in shot attempts. But Lincoln had trouble finding the goal against Lake Oswego's packed-in defense.

By dedicating so many players to the defensive end, Lake Oswego had little chance to mount a counter-attack. The best hope was to send a long ball down the field and score a quick goal before Lincoln could transition to defense.

That's exactly what happened when Lake Oswego junior forward Mady Johnson tracked down a long ball with approximately 14 minutes left in the first half. After gaining possession, Johnson made a quick move to her left, then fired a left-footed shot that barely squeezed past Lincoln's diving goalkeeper.

That one-goal lead looked liked it would vanish five minutes later when Lincoln's Paige Harmier had a close-range attempt, but she put her header just over the crossbar. A short time later, Lincoln's Caroline Kreuz had a shot that appeared to be headed for the back of the net. But Lake Oswego goalie Ariana Green kept the Lakers ahead with a brilliant diving save.

'We knew we were going to be in a battle. And Lincoln showed that when they came back,' Green said.

At halftime, Lake Oswego (12-2-4) made its usual switch at goal and inserted junior Kat Colson in front of the net. Colson had been sensational throughout the playoffs, but she was put to the test by the Cardinals.

Lake Oswego's shutout ended with 29:58 left in the second half. That's when Harmier netted a header off a corner kick. Harmier's arching shot was so well placed that Colson never had a chance to stop it.

Approximately three minutes later, Colson ventured to the top of the goalie box in an attempt to corral a high-bouncing pass that was intended for one of Lincoln's forwards. But the ball ended up bouncing over Colson's head, and Kreuz was able to roll a shot past a remaining Laker defender and into the net for a 2-1 Lincoln lead. Kreuz appeared to be offside on the play, but the goal was allowed to stand.

About two minutes later, Lincoln made it 3-1 when Kendall Johnson curved a 19-yard free kick into the net despite having very little room on the short side of the goal.

Satisfied that a 3-1 lead was enough, Lincoln (17-0) then pulled back the reins and ran out the remainder of the clock.

'It was kind of disappointing, because at halftime our team thought we were going to take it all the way,' Duin said. 'But we had a good season and (a trip to the semis) was the most I could ask for.'