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The Wildcats beat West Linn 13-10 to reach the state semifinals

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Wilsonville senior Alexa Erickson competes for posession with West Linn's Andina Mollusky.

Though Wilsonville annually finishes near the top of the Oregon girls lacrosse standings, West Linn has consistently held the upper-hand in the inter-district rivalry.

This season, the two squads split the regular season series 1-1 and West Linn earned the higher seed heading into the playoffs.

But in the state quarterfinals Wednesday, May 17, the No. 5 Wildcats trotted onto West Linn's field and ransacked bragging rights — besting No. 4 West Linn 13-10 to seal a spot in the state semifinals.

Wilsonville forged its three-goal margin in the middle of the first half while the Lions couldn't quite draw even thereafter.

Throughout the game and especially in the opening 12 minutes, Andina Mollusky and the Lions won the majority of draws but Wilsonville's defense either poked balls loose or goalkeeper Annalyssa Sassara stonewalled shot attempts.

On the other end, Kacy Shrock scored three early goals and Izabella Chimienti added two more and the Wildcats led 5-2 with 10:34 left in the first half.

"We've been practicing crashing super hard (on defense) in practices and making sure we stop the players who are a big threat and every time we did that we took it coast-to-coast. We had a lot of confidence with that," Shrock said.

With former all-state player MacKenzie Welberg injured, Shrock shoulders more responsibility.

"MacKenzie being hurt and not in the game makes me have to step up a lot more and fill her spot, which is tough but it's also a blessing because I like being able to step up and be the captain of the girls and really lead them in a positive way," she said.

Wilsonville led 8-5 at halftime and 10-6 with 17:12 remaining in the game.

Then, the Lions initiated a forceful push.

First, Jenna Ittershagen stole the ball from Wilsonville, dashed up the field and found Ragen Finklea for an impressive score. Then, after the Lions won the subsequent draw, Mollusky found the back of the net to lessen Wilsonville's advantage to 10-8 with 14:40 left in the game.

"Lacrosse is a game of runs and we just went on a run but we just had too many turnovers and so they won," Mollusky said.

With their lead dwindling and the West Linn crowd in a frenzy, the Wildcats concentrated on defense and ball control.

"We really focused on our defense and forcing turnovers and just settling on offense because we knew we had to stall time," Alexa Erickson said.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Wilsonville sophomore Marri McCallum races up the field during the Wildcats quarterfinals victory over West Linn Wednesday, May 17 at West Linn High School.

West Linn scored two more goals in the game but Wilsonville's Kylie Hix, Erickson and Chimienti scored goals of their own and put the game to bed.

Mollusky won nine draws and scored four goals while Morgan Finklea added three goals.

"Unfortunately we turned the ball over too many times once we got control and turnovers kill you in lacrosse but I would say the draw was the highlight of the night. We did well on that," West Linn head coach Ben Finklea said.

Sassara finished with 12 saves and, according to Shrock, spearheaded the Wildcat win.

"Our goalie saved this game. I don't think the result would have been the same if it wasn't for her coming to Wilsonville. She has impacted us in the most positive way possible," Shrock said.

Chimienti was the dominant scoring force in the game. The Wilsonville sophomore consistently zigzagged around Lions' defenders, drew fouls and accumulated a game-high six goals.

"She was doing a good job of taking it in, driving the opposite way and then forcing it in toward the middle and it was harder for them to crash on that. We were all moving around better this game so it drew away more defenders," Erickson said.

Erickson says the Wildcats miss Welberg but winning without her was also satisfying.

"We really miss her especially on the draw but it's nice for us to be able to pull through with the players we have and controlling what we can control. It's a really good feeling," Erickson said.

Finklea says the two teams are evenly matched but the Wildcats simply played better Wednesday.

"These last two games are more indicative of the two teams (Wilsonville won 9-3 in the first meeting and West Linn won 17-16 in two regular season meetings). They had a great game the first time out. These are two evenly matched teams. So many of these kids have grown up together. Our coaching staffs are really close. And skill level-wise it's a good matchup and tonight they had the better game," he said.

Mollusky added: "We all thought we could have played better but it's just something we have to deal with."

West Linn reached the state finals five consecutive years before this season. But the Lions are a young team and Finklea has high hopes for the future.

"Not every year is going to be a run to the state championship. It all ebbs and flows. I think we have an outstanding base. We have six freshmen on the team this year, which is the most we've ever had in the history of the program. I'm really confident that our base of young kids will progress at a good level. I expect us to be competing for state championships in the years to come," Finklea said.

Wilsonville then lost to Lake Oswego 11-6 in the semifinals of the state playoffs Friday, May 19.

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