After some near misses the Lions knock off the Lakers and take sole possession of first place in the TRL

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn goalie Tara Sonnemaker makes one of her 10 saves in a win against Lakeridge. Sonnemaker also had 12 saves in a huge victory over Lake Oswego last week.The West Linn girls lacrosse team knew it had the talent to get past Lake Oswego this year, but the mental hurdler may have been the biggest obstacle.

“It was definitely huge for the girls to get that win. It's something we haven't done in my four years as coach so I think they needed to prove to themselves that there wasn't anything mystical about Lake Oswego,” coach Meg Elston said.

The Lions have played in some epic battles with the Lakers recently, including last year's state title game and the teams' first meeting this season which was hard-fought and evenly matched.

“I put some stats up on the board before the game just to show how much we've narrowed the gap in the past few years,” Elston said.

On Friday, the Lions broke down that final barrier, pounding Lake Oswego in the first half and riding a terrific defensive performance to a 10-6 victory.

The win now puts West Linn a game up on the Lakers for first place in the league and, perhaps more importantly, gives the Lions a huge confidence boost as they gear up for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.

Much like its win over Oregon City this year, the Lions got off to a terrific start, scoring a trio of goals in the first five minutes of play and using a five-goal run to build a 7-1 halftime lead.

“That's the opposite of the way we usually play but, against good teams recently, we've come out very strong,” Elston said.

The Lions didn't give Lake Oswego much of an opportunity to take a breath, hounding the Lakers all over the field.

After taking a commanding lead, the second half was simply about weather the storm. Lake Oswego increased its possession time and had more good looks at the net, but the Lions continued to play strong defense and held the Lakers at bay.

Lake Oswego never got within three goals as the defense continued to step up. West Linn currently has the best defense in the state, yielding just 4.22 goals per game.

“The defense definitely takes pride in being a team that's hard to score against,” Elston said.

The back line of Genna Hughes, Mary Richardson, Caitlin Bernert and defensive midfielder Megan Longtain has been rock solid, all in front of goalie Tara Sonnemaker who has been making a case as being the state's top keeper.

Sonnemaker had 12 saves against the Lakers and 10 on Tuesday against Lakeridge.

Mariah Gatti, while handling face-off duties for the Lions, led the scoring with four goals. Hanna Morford and Annie Longtain each scored twice.

The Lions followed that momentous victory with an impressive 14-4 win over Lakeridge on Tuesday.

West Linn was never really challenged in the game and put together another strong defensive performance against a good offensive team.

Kayla Bouchard had four goals for West Linn while Megan Longtain tallied six ground balls.

The Lions will now look to hold serve before finishing the regular season next week with a rematch against Oregon City.

“We still have work left to do in league and then, in the playoffs, it's just one game at a time,” Elston said.

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