by: VERN UYETAKE Andrew Jeffery will helm the midfield for a Lake Oswego boys soccer team that enters the season as two-time defending league champions.

The Lake Oswego boys soccer team enters the 2011 season as defending league champions and with that comes a target on its back.

Lake Oswego will field another very strong squad that could, once again, be the team to beat in the TRL.

The Lakers have strong leaders on all three lines. Jack Halvorson will shore up the defense, Andrew Jeffery will captain the midfield and Ryan Favero gives the team a dangerous scorer up front.

Those three seniors will be called upon to carry a heavy load for a Lake Oswego team that will likely play a slightly different style of soccer than it did last year.

"Last year we were fairly direct which isn't the most attractive style of soccer. We looked to play long balls to our forwards and that kind of goes against what I stand for. This year we're trying to focus on getting the ball down and finding a rhythm," coach Fraser Morrison said.

The Lakers have plenty of talent and may be one of the more balanced teams in the league from front to back.

"We have athleticism but we also have a lot of quality," Morrison said.

Younger players are also expected to come up big for Lake Oswego this year. Griffin Graves and Kyle Gazzigli both saw significant action last year as freshmen and will be key figures this season.

Junior Nicholas King has also been an early bright spot as one of the team's more versatile players.

Filling in at goalie this year will be senior Owen Madin.

"Owen's spent a long time waiting for this opportunity and I think he'll make the most of it," Morrison said.

Lake Oswego is expected to receive a tough battle from Lakeridge, West Linn and Canby this year as it looks to retain the league crown.

"It will be tough to do it again but that's always the goal. If we can eliminate some of our errors we should have a shot," Morrison said.

Lake Oswego kicked off the season on Tuesday with a 3-2 loss at Jesuit.

The team played well in spurts but some breakdowns deep on its side of the field cost them.

"We pretty much gave them their three goals. They were probably the better side overall but there were a lot of good things to take away," Morrison said.

The Lakers play Southridge, Central Catholic and Liberty in the preseason and will open league play against Canby.

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