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Back in the winner's circle!

The Laker girls lacrosse team wins another state title with a wire-to-wire win over West Linn

VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego girls lacrosse members hoist the state championship trophy following their 12-8 victory over West Linn last week at Wilsonville High School.At least for this year, the Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team was fans of taking turns. For the past four seasons, the Lakers have alternated winning the state championship with West Linn and the teams seemed destined to meet again for the title this year practically from the moment the Lions claimed the cup with a second-half rally in 2015.

With an entire year to think about exacting revenge, the Lakers saved perhaps their best effort of the season for last, controlling last week’s championship game from start to finish in a 12-8 victory.

“It means so much after last year. We started working in November to get back here,” Laker midfielder Lauren Gilbert said.

Lake Oswego kept its head in an emotional and physical contest, jumping on the Lions early and not letting up this this despite a late spurt that cut into the Lakers’ lead.

The Lakers were fired up from the opening draw, getting into scoring position early and capitalizing less than two minutes into the contest on a free position goal from Carlie Leach.

Lake Oswego did an excellent job on draws, particularly in the early going to give the team an early boost.

LGilbert followed with back-to-back goals, prompting a quick time-out from West Linn.

But the Lakers were just getting started. One minute later, Avery Hawes score from a free position and Leach answered with another quick strike, making it 5-0 before West Linn finally responded.

The Lions scored twice in less than a minute but that was matched by another free position goal from Gilbert, her third in the first half.

“We’ve been a second half team all year but we knew we needed to have a fast start,” Gilbert said.

While West Linn tried to chip away at the lead, it hurt its own cause by racking up numerous penalties which cost them possession.

A goal from Katy Gilbert with 6:19 to play in the half made it 7-2 with the Lions playing shorthanded but Lake Oswego couldn’t put the game away in the final minutes of the first half.

Instead, West Linn rallied with a pair of quick goals and got possession in the final minute, looking to make it just a two-goal game after a half that the Lakers dominated.

But goalie Riley Hertford made a pair of big saves in the final minute, giving Lake Oswego a boost heading into the break.

The teams traded goals early in the second half with Lauren Gilbert scoring for Lake Oswego. She would score again, her fifth of the contest to spark a crucial Lake Oswego run that all but put the game out of reach.

Leach finished off her hat trick two minutes later, followed by a goal from Hawes and a strike from Samantha Castle with 5:32 left that made it 12-5.

“We played with a lot of energy. Everyone wanted this so much,” Hawes said.

West Linn wasn’t quite finished, however. Thirty seconds later, Natalie Byrne scored just her second goal of the game as the Lions looked to spark a dramatic rally.

“We have a defensive system that should work against someone who likes to drive like Natalie. She’s such a good player,” coach Lauren Anderson said.

Lake Oswego was able to get possession and milk the clock but the Lions recorded a turnover and scored again with 1:20 remaining. Byrne then won the draw an quickly scored to make it 12-8.

Another West Linn goal was nullified in the closing minute and Lake Oswego was able to run out the remainder of the clock.

It was another terrific season for the Lakers who seemed to get better with each game. Lake Oswego will graduate just four players from this year’s squad and will likely enter next spring as prohibitive favorites to repeat.