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Dual threat


Megan and Annie Longtain helped lead the West Linn girls lacrosse team to a state title and will play one final event together in the All-American Showcase

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Annie (left) and Megan Longtain each played a big role on the West Linn girls lacrosse team over the past four years, eventually leading the Lions to the state title this spring. They will play in the All-American Showcase before heading off to play college lacrosse.For more than a decade, West Linn's Annie and Megan Longtain have been teammates in virtually every sport you could imagine. The identical twin sisters, who can occasionally only be differentiated by the number on their uniform, made a significant impact on the women's sports programs during their tenure with the Lions. And now, as the sisters prepare to go their separate ways for college, having each received lacrosse scholarships, they will team up once more as part of the All-American Showcase.

The Longtains, along with West Linn goalie Tara Sonnemaker, were named to Team Freedom, one of four teams comprised of lacrosse all-americans from around the country and they will play in a round-robin exhibition tournament July 21-26 at the ESPN Sports Complex in Florida.

The showcase will be a fitting capper to the twins' high school careers. The sisters grew up playing multiple sports and thrived in nearly all of them.

Their older sister, Katie, began playing lacrosse in West Linn's youth program and, when the twins took it up, they liked it instantly.

“It's so different from anything else. There are so many people on the field and your team is the most important thing,” Megan said.

When the girls entered high school, the once vaunted lacrosse program had fallen on hard times.

“We only won a few games our freshman year and I remember, at the end of the season, the seniors didn't really seem to care. It was like 'Well we've already lost to this team so we're going to lose again,'” Annie said.

The twins vowed to become role models on the team and worked hard to inject energy back into the program.

The team's young talent and work ethic, coupled with new coach Meg Elston saw almost instant dividends.

Just one year after hitting a low mark for the program, the Lions rebounded, coming on strong late in the season and making a somewhat surprise appearance in the state semifinals.

The team's youth and inexperience was still a factor, however, as evidenced by a lopsided loss to eventual state champion Lake Oswego in the semis.

Things improved the next year along with the program's expectations. The Lions lived up to their billing as one of the state's top teams and advanced a round further, losing to Lake Oswego in a hard-fought final.

While West Linn had prolific goal scorers on the team, it was the Longtains who did much of the dirty work and who were very much the catalyst for the team's success.

The pair brought a defensive mindset to the squad and routinely led the team in caused turnovers and ground balls.

Aggressiveness and tough-nosed defense were the Longtains' calling cards, not just on the lacrosse field but on the basketball court as well.

The sisters were often brought in as defensive specialists or to give the team a spark of energy.

Heading into their senior year, the West Linn lacrosse program faced a different challenge. The team was the preseason favorite for the state title and knew that anything short of that goal would be somewhat of a disappointment.

“We knew we had everything in place to win. It was now or never,” Annie said.

The pressure was felt early in the season.

“In our first game against Sherwood, we gave up the first goal and it kind of shocked everyone,” Megan said.

West Linn also dropped its first regular season meeting with Lake Oswego in another showdown between the state's two preeminent teams.

In the rematch on West Linn's home field, the Lions finally got over the hump.

“(Elston) showed us the stats from all of our games against Lake Oswego for the last four years and it showed how progressively we've gotten closer and closer to where we were basically even with them,” Megan said.

The Lions cruised to a landmark victory and never looked back. West Linn continued to rack up lopsided victories through the playoffs and, when the inevitable showdown with Lake Oswego in the finals emerged, the Lions marched onto the field with confidence.

West Linn's victory was virtually never in doubt as the team controlled the contest from start to finish, setting off a wild celebration in the rain at Hillsboro Stadium.

“I remember having the ball at the end of the game and it was so surreal, knowing that this was the last time we'd play with these girls,” Annie said.

“With five seconds left in the game I just knew I had to find Megan and celebrate with her,” Annie said.

Playing together for so long and having the unique bond that comes with being a twin certainly had its advantages on the field but wasn't always easy.

“I think once we started to develop separate skills we started to be a little competitive and, being sisters, it's easier to bicker with each other because we know how the other person is going to take it,” Megan said.

The team's defense became its signature as the Lions were ranked nationally and gave up the fewest goals in the state.

Much of that was due to the Longtains who helped the team hound the ball all over the field. During her senior year, Megan made a concerted effort to take on more of a defensive role, anchoring defensive midfield. In turn, this allowed Annie to develop as more of an offensive threat.

The pair became two of the most versatile players on the team, something which should help them at the collegiate level.

“The college game is a little different because there are fewer midfielders and I knew that I'd have a better shot if I picked a different position,” Megan said.

Winning the state title in lacrosse, West Linn's first since Wilsonville started its own separate program, was clearly the highlight of the Longtain's four-year athletic tenure at the school. Although Megan claims that the basketball team's victory over Oregon City during her junior year comes close.

“To me it's comparable because you're playing at the show, at Hillsboro Stadium or at the Rose Garden and they were both wins that were maybe a little unexpected. We've definitely been a part of some amazing moments,” Megan said.

With the victory, each Longtain sister now has a state title to her name as Katie helped the Lions capture a state golf title her senior year.

Annie and Megan will now get to play alongside some of the best girls lacrosse players in the country in Florida before leaving for college at the end of the summer.

While the girls were both recruited by some of the same schools, they made a conscious decision to go their separate ways after high school. Annie will attend the University of Oregon while Megan will head to Fort Lewis College.

“We knew when we turned 18 we wanted to go to different colleges. We both have different personalities and styles. I wanted to go to a smaller school so it worked out,” Megan said.

The Longtains will take plenty of incredible memories from West Linn and leave behind a rejuvenated lacrosse program that should pose a very strong state title defense next year.