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Boys soccer team continues late run

The Lions move into a tie for third place as a wild regular season winds up


The West Linn boys soccer team was already mentally prepared to have to earn its way into the 32-team playoff tournament this year after a slow start to the season put the Lions in a significant hole.

However, the Lions have been the hottest team in the league over the past five games and, after a 2-1 win over a struggling Lakeridge squad last week, West Linn found itself in a bizarre four-way tie for third place with Canby, Lakeridge and Oregon City with just one regular season game to play.

That sets up a crazy last night of regular season play (which occurred on Wednesday after press time). Just one of those four teams will earn an automatic berth in the playoffs with both Clackamas and Lake Oswego having locked down the No. 1 and No. 2 spots respectively.

West Linn seemingly has the most difficult task ahead of it, taking on No. 1 Clackamas. However, the Lions are the only team in the league to beat the Cavaliers this season and Clackamas has already clinched the league title and has little to play for aside from bolstering its OSAA ranking.

“The goal was to be playing our best soccer around this time and if we can beat Clackamas twice, who I think is legitimately a top-five team in the state, that would send an incredible message to our team that we can play with anyone,” coach Greg Bean said.

A victory by West Linn would clinch at least a tie for third place.

No matter how it turns out, Bean will be happy with the result.

“It's a win-win situation. If we take third, we're in automatically and if we don't, we get to stay in our normal rhythm and play next week,” Bean said.

And the Lions also have the luxury of entering the postseason on a roll, having gone 3-1-1 in their last five games.

West Linn's most recent victory came last week as the Lions held off Lakeridge 2-1.

West Linn took an early lead, getting a well-placed shot from Jackson Brooke in the first half to go up 1-0.

The Lions had a strategy against Lakeridge goalie Toby Holstein and they executed it perfectly.

“We wanted to keep the ball low against him and worked on that in practice” Bean said.

Later in the half, West Linn hit another low bullet on target. Holstein was able to knock it down but the deflection went right to Brooke who scored it and gave the Lions a 2-0 edge at the half.

“Jackson's been really aggressive lately and he's just taken off in our last few games,” Bean said.

Lakeridge, which was coming off two straight losses, continued to fight and scored a beautiful goal from long distance in the second half to cut the lead in half.

However, West Linn's improving defense held firm in the final minutes of the game and preserved the win.

“You wouldn't know it from the score but I thought the defense did a great job against Canby as well. It's been a big emphasis for us and we've been mixing in different people. Lakeridge was explosive but we played them well,” Bean said.

If West Linn moved into third place, it will have a week and a half off until it opens up the playoffs next Saturday.

A play-in game would likely occur next Tuesday against a to be determined opponent.



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