The West Linn girls lacrosse team only lost four players from last year's team which made it to the state semifinals and lost in a close game 14-11 to the eventual state champions from St. Mary's.

That being said, expectations are understandably high this spring.

The four seniors the team lost are not easy to replace, however the Lions should still have one of the strongest cores in the state.

Solveig Lee and Sam Dewart are West Linn's captains this year. Lee had been one of the state's most feared scorers practically since she was a freshman and she will be a primary target for the Lions on offense.

'Obviously Solveig will be a key on offense. Teams will be looking to double her and if that happens it opens things up for our other girls,' coach Allister Bunch said.

Dewart will man the midfield for West Linn and will help the Lions transition quickly from defense to offense.

Due to the team's speed, the Lions have been spending a lot of time working on their transition game in practices and it should be one of its biggest strengths on the field.

'We've been working really hard on getting the ball from one end of the field to the other quickly,' Bunch said.

Also helping out in the midfield is Erika Busch who, along with Lee, played for the Oregon Elite team last summer.

'Those two have learned how to use their size and strength and have added a new dimension to their game,' Bunch said.

The three mentioned seniors, along with junior Kristin Brown should prove to be big threats for West Linn on offense.

Defensively, a pair of juniors will have the unenviable task of shutting down some of the state's top attacking teams this year.

Karina Dewart and Jenna Steele each have plenty of varsity experience and will be crucial if the team hopes to make another deep playoff run.

'They're our anchors. They'll need to talk and communicate and if they do what we know they can, we're looking at a really good season,' Bunch said.

The defense will protect sophomore goalie Emily Ostbo, who was the JV team's goalie last season. Ostbo hasn't missed a beat making the transition to varsity and should be a strong asset this spring.

The Lions also have a handful of players who are new to the varsity squad and who are learning quickly on the fly.

'The trick is just getting those players to be comfortable and play with confidence and for them to believe that they deserve to be out on the field playing at the varsity level,' Bunch said.

West Linn's league may prove to be the most competitive in the state.

It features two new programs in Hood River and North Clackamas along with Oregon City, which was second in state last year, Lake Oswego, which has won two of the previous three state championships and Lakeridge.

But the Lions should be close to the top of the league with all of their talent.

'My expectations are for every girl to improve and to just foster the love of the sport. If that happens, the rewards will come naturally,' Bunch said.

West Linn got a good look at how it stacks up on Wednesday in its season-opening game against St. Mary's but results were not available at press time.

West Linn's next home game will be on March 20 against Liberty after the girls make a trip to Eugene to take on Marist and South Eugene.

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