by: Matthew Sherman, 
Lakeridge’s James Higgins tries to fend off a Lake Oswego defender during last week’s boys lacrosse game. The Pacers won the game 10-8.

It may have been the most anticipated regular season lacrosse game of the entire year. And, even with that hype, it lived up to the expectations.

Lakeridge and Lake Oswego took the field for a rematch last Wednesday with a potential league title on the line. More importantly, the league's No. 1 seed in the playoffs was at stake and, this year, that seed comes with a first-round bye and a considerably easier road to the semifinals.

When the team's met earlier in the year, Lake Oswego pulled away in the fourth quarter of a close contest to win 10-8.

This time, two completely different games took place in a short period of time. The first occurred in the first three quarter, where Lakeridge controlled possession and used stifling defense to build a seemingly insurmountable 9-2 lead.

In that time, the Pacers held the Lakers scoreless for two and a half quarters and had nearly complete control.

But things changed between the third and fourth quarter. Lakeridge was penalized for an illegal stick infraction which put them in a man-down situation for the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter. And, in that time, Lake Oswego could score at will before the Pacers got back to full strength.

The Lakers took advantage. Led by Chase Clausen, Lake Oswego scored three quick goals in a two-minute period to give the team some much-needed momentum and renewed confidence that it might be able to pull out a victory after all.

'It showed a lot of grit but it was also a little frustrating because where had that been all game?' Laker coach Peter Lamb said.

Even when Lakeridge got back to full strength, Lake Oswego controlled possession. Another penalty put the Pacers back in a man-down situation and, eventually, the Lakers scored five unanswered goals, cutting the lead to 9-7.

'You have to take your hat off to L.O. They don't quit,' Lakeridge coach Curt Sheinin said.

However, with the clock winding down, the Pacers regained possession and mounted a fast break. Andrew Clayton, who had four goals already for the Pacers, found some space and scored his fifth of the game to stop the bleeding.

Clayton had suffered what Sheinin believes is a partially separated shoulder earlier in the game but still came through with the crucial score.

'He was in a lot of pain,' Sheinin said.

Lake Oswego wasn't finished though. The Lakers scored again but there simply wasn't enough time remaining to make up the entire deficit.

Lake Oswego scored two first-quarter goals but the offense was stymied after that. Lakeridge goalie Jonny Internicola caught fire, turning away shot after shot.

'Jonny was phenomenal. It was tough in the fourth quarter being a man down so much but he helped us build that lead to being with,' Sheinin said.

For the game, Clayton led Lakeridge with five goals and an assist, Conor Ryan and James Higgins each scored twice and Jordan Schrader notched a goal and an assist. Lake Oswego was paced by Sean Silverstein who had a hat trick. Blake Heim and Clausen each scored twice and added an assist.

'This loss could be one of the best things to happen to us right before the playoffs. By coming back against West Linn it shows the guys are ready to put it past them,' Lamb said.

As a result, the teams remained tied atop the league standings having beaten each other by identical scores. As of press time, the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed had yet to be determined and, ultimately, it may be decided by a coin flip.

'This shows that if we play our best game, we're one of the top teams in the state,' Sheinin said.

And, to even stay eligible for the league title, both teams had to get past a strong West Linn team once more.

Just two days after defeating the Lakers in their biggest win of the year, Lakeridge found itself in a dogfight with West Linn.

The Lions jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, controlling possession early in the game and knocking the Pacers back on their heels slightly.

'West Linn played as well as we've seen them in a long time,' Sheinin said.

But Lakeridge was resilient. The team managed to win face-offs and controlled the second quarter. The Pacers continued to control the momentum in the second half and held a slim two-goal lead late in the game.

But the Lions, who could still claim a tie for the league title with wins over both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego, mounted one more run. In the closing minutes of the game, West Linn scored twice and both teams had opportunities to break the stalemate in the final 40 seconds.

But the game went to overtime tied at 8-8. Lakeridge won another face-off and Clayton scored early in the extra period to seal the game.

Clayton had two goals in that game along with Jeff Garrett and Lane Fritz. Jordan Schrader added a goal and an assist while Michael Hoch and James Higgins each scored as well.

On Monday, it was Lake Oswego's turn to face the dangerous Lions.

In the first game between the two teams, West Linn dominated the first quarter before a valiant comeback gave Lake Oswego as 12-8 victory.

This time it was the Lakers who would dominate early. Lake Oswego jumped out to a 5-2 lead after the end of the first quarter and would up the lead to 6-2 before West Linn rallied.

The Lions scored three unanswered goals to cut the lead to one at the break.

'We came out playing really fast and loose. It was kind of a track meet. Then we slowed it down a little and I think we lost some momentum,' Lamb said.

Lake Oswego regained momentum early in the third quarter, giving itself another small cushion but, again, the Lions rallied.

This time an illegal stick penalty hurt the Lakers and West Linn was able to score twice while it was a man up.

West Linn was never able to tie the game but stayed within one goal for much of the second half.

The Lions had their chances to tie the game in the closing minutes but Lake Oswego's defense held strong to preserve an extremely important win.

'We were at a crossroads. After a heart-breaking loss we could have let it haunt us but we did what we needed to do,' Lamb said.

Heim had three goals in the game and was Lake Oswego's only multi-goal scorer. Clausen had a goal and two assists, Silverstein had one goal and one assist and Chris Zinmeister had a goal and an assist. Five of Lake Oswego's nine goals were assisted.

The league's No. 1 seed will receive a first-round bye while the No. 2 seed takes on the Columbia League's No. 4 team.

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