A 2-0 win over West Linn leaves Lakeridge one win away from clinching first place

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge's Nicole Helm heads the ball away from a West Linn player during last week's 2-0 victory. The Lakeridge girls soccer team moved one big step closer to clinching the league title this year, avenging an earlier loss to West Linn with a 2-0 victory on Thursday.

The game was a defensive struggle with both squads focused on shutting down the opposing offense. Scoring chances were few and far between but Lakeridge made the most of its, capitalizing with a pair of strikes from Maddie Krauss.

The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first half and shots on goal were difficult to come by.

Lakeridge received a stellar defensive effort from its entire back line and particularly Kaytlin Korte who has been an anchor for the Pacers down the stretch.

In the second half, Lakeridge broke through when Natalie Bristol played a nice ball to Krauss who came through with a well-placed shot.

“We played some of best soccer against West Linn, particularly in the second half,” coach Karl Granlund said.

Lakeridge's defense continued to hold firm as the Lions upped their attack. The Pacers put the game away in the closing minutes, earning a free kick which Krauss knocked in to make it a 2-0 advantage.

With the victory, Lakeridge stayed two points ahead of Clackamas with just one game remaining. Heading into tonight (Thursday)'s game against Canby, the Pacers may have already clinched the title if the Lions could knock off the Cavalier.

A win by Clackamas would force Lakeridge to beat the Cougars to seal the title.

The Lakeridge girls appear to be playing some of their best soccer as they prepare for the postseason. The Pacers have made it a habit of stringing together some of their strongest performances in the playoffs and they hope that will continue this year.

“Traditionally we have played better in the second half of the season. As we transition to the playoffs, we're hopeful we can continue to improve,” Granlund said.

Lakeridge, which is currently ranked No. 5 in the state by the OSAA, will open up its playoff run next Saturday at home.

Meanwhile, the Lakeridge boys continued their tough finish to the regular season last week. The Pacers fell to a rejuvenated West Linn team 2-1 which set up a four-way tie for third place with the Lions, Oregon City and Canby.

West Linn scored two first-half goals and its defense held on down the stretch. Lakeridge took on Canby on Wednesday as it looked to lock down third place in the TRL and a first-round bye but results were not available at press time.

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