Lake Oswego girls lacrosse rolls St. Mary's 21-8 in state quarterfinal
So far, so good.
OK, to be fair, it was more like "So far, so very, very good" for the Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team.
The Lakers, the 2016 state champions, opened their 2017 state playoffs in impressive fashion Wednesday night, rolling past St. Mary's 21-8 in the state quarterfinals at Lake Oswego High School.
Lake Oswego used an eight-goal scoring run late in the first half to push ahead of the Blues, then tacked on a solid second half to win going away. Next up, the top-seeded Lakers will play No. 5 Wilsonville in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday night at Wilsonville High School.
"It was fun. It's always fun when the playoffs come," said Lake Oswego junior midfielder Carlie Leach, who led her team with six goals against St. Mary's. "It's the best time of the year. It's like Christmas."
"It's awesome," agreed freshman attack Katie Freeman, who scored all three of her goals in the second half. "I love playing with such an experienced team."
The win lifted Three Rivers League champion Lake Oswego's season record to 18-2 (the Lakers went 13-0 in league play), while ninth-seeded St. Mary's ended its year at 10-8 after placing fourth in the TRL at 5-8.
Early on, however, the Blues held their own. Lake Oswego grabbed an early 2-1 lead off goals by Leach and Rowan Anderson, but saw St. Mary's tie the contest at 2-2 when Milan Lam cut across the Lake Oswego goal mouth and scored with 11 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half.
The next 5:23, however, belonged completely to the Lakers. In that span, Lake Oswego ripped off eight unanswered goals, built their lead to a formidable 10-2 with 5:57 remaining in the half and put the Blues on notice that they would not be posting an upset on Wednesday.
"Once we get our passing quick and we can really just communicate a lot, we play beautifully and can pass well and shoot well and place our shots," Freeman said.
Leach kicked off that streak with a score at the end of a long run down the middle of the field, senior captain Lauren Gilbert came through less than a minute later following a penalty, and Leach scored again 13 seconds later off a Gilbert assist to boost their team's lead to 5-2.
Maddie Manske connected next, flipping the ball over Blues goalie Riley Waters off a ground ball, Gilbert put together a three-goal stretch of her own (the second of those assisted by Katy Gilbert) and Leach capped that run with a breakaway score to extend the Laker lead to 10-2 with 5:57 remaining in the half.
After edging the Blues just 9-8 in their previous meeting on May 2 — a game in which several Lakers were battling illness — Wednesday's redemption meant a great deal to Lake Oswego.
"We wanted to prove something tonight," Leach said. "We just take each game one game at a time, but this game meant something to us. It meant something tonight."
"We were all tired and sick and we underestimated them (last time), but tonight, we came out strong," Freeman added.
The Lakers led 12-4 at the half, then built their advantage to 10 goals — at 15-5 when Leach connected following a St. Mary's penalty with 22:35 remaining — to trigger the on-again, off-again use of the running clock the rest of the way.
Lake Oswego pushed its lead to 10 scores three times in the second half, then extended its edge to the final 13-goal margin thanks to two Freeman scores in the game's last 10:57.
The Lakers' defense was solid, too, with goalie Riley Hertford and defenders Taylor Anders, McKinley Mullen and Emma Hunter frustrating the Blues throughout the contest.
"We found what we wanted (last year), we got it, it was amazing and we're trying to bring that back this year, have another go at it," Leach added.
In addition to Leach's six scores for Lake Oswego, Lauren Gilbert added five and Katy Gilbert two. For St. Mary's, Lam led the Blues with four goals while teammate Zoe Ziegler added two.