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Pair of shutouts vaults Lions into quarters

West Linn reaches quarterfinals for first time since 2000


by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn defender Lucas Evans shields a North Salem player from the ball during the Lions' opening-round playoff victory over the Vikings in overtime. The Lions then beat Newberg to move into the quarterfinals. The West Linn boys soccer team continued to ride its remarkable defensive streak into the playoffs, recording a pair of shutouts in the first two rounds of the postseason to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000.

After knocking off North Salem on Saturday in a somewhat harrowing 2-0 overtime victory, the Lions rolled to a 3-0 win over Newberg Tuesday night and will host Century on Saturday.

West Linn opened the playoffs against a determined North Salem team, which stuck to a specific plan and came close to biting the No. 3-ranked Lions.

The Lions dominated possession in the game as North Salem focused heavily on defense and its counter attack.

But West Linn struggled to break through the Vikings' stacked back line. While the Lions had the majority of the chances, it failed to come up with the go-ahead goal in less than ideal weather conditions, sending the game to extra time.

“There was some urgency. The game was more exciting than it needed to be,” coach Greg Bean said.

West Linn stayed calmed and collected and continued to stick with its game plan. The Lions finally broke through early in the first overtime period.

Andre Goncalves notched the go-ahead tally for the Lions and West Linn would put the game away just a few minutes later on a header by Colton Hefty.

The win advanced the Lions to the second round of the playoffs against a team it played in the preseason.

Earlier in the year, West Linn played Newberg to a 0-0 tie. The Tigers, who will become a league rival for the Lions next year when they move into the Three Rivers League, knocked off Sunset in penalty kicks on Saturday and also boast a strong defense.

After a back and forth first 20 minutes of play, the Lions steadily started to put more pressure on Newberg and began to win the possession battle.

With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Kegan Wesley possessed the ball on the left side of the goal box, made a move toward the end line and was tripped up, drawing a whistle and a penalty kick.

Ryan Barber took the shot and scored it easily, giving the Lions the early edge.

“We had close to 75 percent of the possession the first time we played. We knew for us it was just about getting that first goal,” Bean said.

West Linn continued to possess the ball deep in Newberg territory but struggled to come up with clean looks at the goal.

The Lions continued to be aggressive to start the second half, getting a hard shot on goal from Barber and a volley over the top from Wesley.

Goncalves put heavy pressure on Newberg's goalie, winning the ball from him on two occasions but couldn't quite convert.

Newberg had a dangerous free kick from deep outside the box, but West Linn goalie Zach Nelson saved it easily.

Hefty also made a nice defensive tackle to thwart a run by the Tigers.

“We just wanted to possess the ball, play strong defense and take our chances when we could get them,” Bean said.

The Lions looked for insurance and nearly got it when a deep thrown-in from Jackson Brooke got past the Newberg goalie, but Barber couldn't convert on the chance.

Just a few minutes later, West Linn earned a corner kick and Barber sent in a low cross. The ball bounced to Brooke, who scored it on a partially deflected shot, giving the Lions a 2-0 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

Just four minutes later, the Lions mounted a dangerous counterattack and Brooke capped off a breakaway down the right side with another goal to seal the victory.

West Linn advanced to the quarterfinals and will take on Century at home Saturday. Century is coming off a win over North Medford in penalty kicks. The Jaguars finished fourth in the Pacific Conference but lost to Newberg 1-0 in league play and lost to Lakeridge 4-2 in the preseason.



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