Lake Oswego caps a perfect season with a 15-3 win over West Linn for its second straight state championship
The Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team entered last Thursday's state championship game with three state titles already under its belt, including one last year. But the Lakers had never won a state title in which they entered the game as the favorite.
Lake Oswego walked into Hillsboro Stadium without a blemish on its record but was also saddled with the burden of expectations and the always difficult task of having to defeat a team for the third time in a single season.
Taking on West Linn, the only team that has really even challenged the Lakers this year, Lake Oswego made an early flurry hold up in a well-played and entertaining 15-13 victory.
The Lakers had their familiar opponents pegged. They knew that West Linn had a reputation for starting games slowly at times this year and understood that the first 10-15 minutes of play would be crucial in the state title game.
"We knew they start off slowly and we didn't want to give them room to come back on us,' coach Lauren Anderson said.
That turned out to be true as the Lakers built an early 6-1 advantage before West Linn rallied. The Lions would end up cutting the lead to one goal on three separate occasions in the second half but, each time, Lake Oswego dug in its heels to prevent a momentum-shifting tying goal.
After a scoreless first five minutes of play, Lake Oswego started to find its rhythm. Madeline Reece notched the first goal of the contest and that was quickly followed by scores from Alyssa Dragelin and Siobhan Mead.
Lake Oswego played terrific defense all over the field in the early going, forcing a handful of West Linn turnovers as the Lions struggled to transition from defense to offense.
The Lakers spread the wealth on offense for much of the game. After West Linn got on the board following a penalty, Lake Oswego responded with three more unanswered goals from Paige Timberg, Emily Wolff and Reece to build its biggest lead of the game.
'We have a lot of great ball-handlers on this team who can open things up,' Anderson said.
But the Lions slowly clawed their way back in the game in the closing minutes of the first half. The Lions responded with three straight goals of their own.
Dragelin came up big for the Lakers all game, routinely hurting the Lions with her speed up the field. She was particularly impressive in the midst of West Linn's comeback. After the Lions had cut the lead to 6-4, Dragelin scooped up the ensuing draw and went down the field for a quick goal.
She did the same thing following the Lions' next goal to make it 9-5. West Linn would notch a pair of goals in the final 2:30 of the opening half, including one with just five ticks on the clock to make it 9-7 at the half.
West Linn scored the first goal of the second half to make it 9-8 but Lake Oswego countered with a goal from Timberg on an assist from Mead.
The Lions would cut the lead to one again and had opportunities to tie but Lake Oswego goalie Julianna Ramey picked opportune times to come up with some of her best saves of the game.
While West Linn came dangerously close to completing its rally, Timberg started to take over on offense. She had three of her team's first four goals of the second half as the Lakers continued to attack and make the Lions play catch-up.
'As a senior, when I got the ball I wanted to do what I needed to do,' Timberg said.
Lilly Newman also had a terrific goal during that stretch, losing her balance and scoring while falling down.
Newman would score again with 8:09 to push the lead to 15-12 and the Lakers then started to eat the clock, something they haven't had to execute much this year.
'We just told ourselves this was our game. We're all so close we knew we needed to pull together,' Newman said.
Lake Oswego's defense was terrific down the stretch to limit West Linn's scoring chances. The Lions made it 15-13 with 1:44 left following a penalty. The Lions won the ensuing draw but couldn't get a clean shot as the Lakers forced a turnover to seal the victory.
The victory capped one of the best season's in history of Lake Oswego's program. The team will graduate some key pieces but returns much of its core.
As for the Lions, West Linn loses just two seniors, setting up what should be a terrific rivalry next season.