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- New faces lead hard-working Lakeridge -

MATTHEW SHERMAN - Ashlynn Lawston returns to the Pacers this season as one of its key midfieldersThe Lakeridge girls soccer team is younger than it has been for the past few seasons but still expects to be extremely competitive in the always tough Three Rivers League.

The Pacers are coming off a state quarterfinal appearance but graduated eight seniors who were significant contributors to that run.

Lakeridge has just four seniors on its varsity roster this season but there is no shortage of talent.

“It’s a big, new group and the kids and I are very excited. They’ve been working hard and putting in the effort,” coach Karl Granlund said.

The Pacers have two returning starters on the back line, giving the team what they hope will be a very strong defense. Audrey Bachman is back along with Eliza Donaghy, both juniors.

“The way you want to build a team is to start with the back and make that a priority. I think they’re really going to help develop our play going forward,” Granlund said.

The Pacers are also carrying three goalies this year in seniors Kayla Friesen and Rihana Barrera, along with sophomore Averi Basso.

In the midfield, Lakeridge returns Ashlynn Lawston and Madeline Harbour, who will also see time at forward.

Sophomore Sydney Utech is also expected to be a key player in the middle of the field.

“We have high expectations for her and she’s been doing very well for us,” Granlund said.

Lakeridge has a handful of intriguing options at forward this year and Granlund expects to use multiple combinations early in the season.

“It’s pretty wide open. We’ve been competitive in training and trying out different people,” Granlund said.

The team has focused on building chemistry and figuring out what its strengths are early in the season.

“We’re not sure what formation might work best for us yet. We have a lot to learn and accomplish in the preseason,” Granlund said.

So far, Lakeridge is off to a solid start.

After a 2-0 loss to Beaverton, the Pacers rebounded at home Tuesday, Sept. 6 with a 1-0 win over Aloha.

The Pacers will travel for a non-league game against Tualatin Thursday, Sept. 8 and host Seattle Prep next week.

“Tualatin has played for the state title for the past three years and they’re always strong,” Granlund said about the always difficult Three Rivers League. “I think Sherwood could compete for a state title this year too.”