by: VERN UYETAKE, Lakeridge’s Nick Wilkins shields Lake Oswego’s Bryan Williams as he heads a ball. The Pacers won 2-1.

The Lakeridge boys soccer team moved one big step closer to clinching another league championship last week when it knocked off cross-town rival Lake Oswego 2-1 and remaining unbeaten in league.

"We have a group of guys who are pretty solid and they seem to find a way to get that goal that we need," Pacer coach Paul Slover said.

When the two teams met earlier in the year, Lakeridge had the better of the play. This time, the game was far more evenly matched with Lake Oswego out-shooting the Pacers, particularly in the second half.

"We went out and worked as hard as we could. It just wasn't to be this evening," Laker coach Fraser Morrison said.

After an exceptionally entertaining and well-played first 40 minutes, Lake Oswego ended up with most of the scoring chances after the break.

The Lakers got off 11 second-half shots and earned 10 corner kicks as Lakeridge was resigned to simply try and hang on to its slim lead.

In the end, Lake Oswego couldn't come up with the equalizer and it was the Pacers celebrating again.

Despite the Lakers coming out with plenty of intensity, it was Lakeridge that got on the board quickly.

Just two-and-a-half minutes into the game, Patrick Kelly curved a perfectly struck shot into the net giving his team a 1-0 advantage.

Lakeridge nearly scored moments later but the play was whistled dead because of an offsides infraction.

The Lakers weren't down for long though. Midway through the first half, Troy Hall won a loose ball and fired an open shot into the net to tie the game.

"It's all about showing character. We're always confident that we can go out and score," Morrison said.

That sparked Lake Oswego as the team got good looks from Macgregor Hodgson and Hall that were saved by Lakeridge goalie Jason Dodson.

Both teams spent much of the first half flying up and down the field as they combined for nine shots on goal and dozens of highlight reel plays.

With just under 14 minutes to go in the half, Lakeridge's Jared Martin got off an open shot that Laker goalie Tom Olen partially blocked. The shot still found its way into the net though for what would ultimately be the winning tally.

The Lakers came close to tying the game again before the break. Hall and Jackson Ray each got off strong shots but they were turned away by Dodson.

Dodson had a spectacular first half and his night was only about to get more difficult.

"He had at least two or three game-saving saves. He helped us get three points," Slover said about his goalie.

Lake Oswego got off to a strong start in the second half and never let up. Dodson stopped shots by Ray and Thomas Iwasaki as the Lakers kept the ball on Lakeridge's side of the field for the first 10 minutes of the half.

"In the second half we just reacted to them. They were all over us," Slover said.

Lakeridge's best chance of the half came with 18 minutes to play. A collision occurred in the Laker goal box and it appeared that the Pacers might be awarded a penalty kick but the call went the other way.

As much pressure as Lake Oswego put on goal during the first 30 minutes of the second half, the last 10 were even more frantic.

Hall had another strong shot turned away by Dodson and Cale Bigelow hit a great cross that went unanswered.

Iwasaki also got off a deflected shot that Dodson made a diving save on.

For the final few minutes of the game, Lakeridge simply cleared the ball from its defense as the Lakers mounted a handful of chances.

The Pacers followed up the big victory with a surprising 1-1 tie against Putnam. It was the first league game that Lakeridge hasn't won outright this year.

Lake Oswego meanwhile kept a firm hold on second place, beating Milwaukie 5-2.

Lake Oswego takes on West Linn tonight (Thursday) and Lakeridge plays Clackamas.

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