Lions hope to keep historic run going through the postseason

Having locked up the Three Rivers League title and with one of the top-four seeds in the state heading into the playoffs practically guaranteed, the West Linn boys soccer team now has to find a way to stay sharp and focused during a long break between its regular season finale and its playoff opener next Saturday.

The Lions have put together one of the most dominating regular seasons in the program's history and, quite frankly, one that is extremely rare in the TRL. Heading into Wednesday's game against Clackamas, West Linn was unbeaten and untied in league and had yielded just one goal in that time.

Often the weight of high expectations, coupled with a longer layover than the team has faced all season, can have a detrimental effect on a squad.

But this Lions team has been on a mission for the past few weeks.

“I was talking to (defender) Lucas Evans and I asked him when he knew this team was special. He said he honestly never expected this, especially after last season, but after our first game against Lake Oswego, it was one of those moments where he realized their potential,” coach Greg Bean said.

West Linn finished 3-6-1 in league last year and in a tie for last place. But Bean made a concerted effort to build chemistry on this year's squad well before the season began.

As a result, the team has been extremely close, refusing to take time off during the year.

Last week, the Lions took down their latest victim in Lakeridge 2-0, completing a season sweep of the Pacers.

Earlier in the year the Pacers gave West Linn one of its toughest games. This time the Lions were the aggressors, controlling the first half and knocking Lakeridge on its heels.

“We looked fantastic for the first 40 minutes. (Lakeridge) never really established a rhythm like they did the first time against us,” Bean said.

West Linn scored just six minutes into the game on a shot from Logan Fritts and never looked back.

The Lions dominated possession, which has been their signature this year.

“We kept the ball and pressed very well. That's been our emphasis,” Bean said.

West Linn would tack on another goal later in the half. Jackson Brooke corralled a throw-in in the goal box and was taken down, drawing a penalty kick.

Ryan Barber deposited the kick, giving West Linn a 2-0 lead at the half.

The Lions eased off slightly in the second half but still controlled the bulk of the possession and turned away Lakeridge's best chance to score.

Heading into Wednesday's game, the Lions were ranked No. 2 in the state, barely ahead of Jesuit. The team will continue to practice hard and will host a playoff game a week from Saturday.

“It's just been a lot of fun. They hold each other accountable and I try not to screw it up,” Bean said.

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