by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Meghan Ellis, right, battles a Southridge player for the ball during Tuesday’s playoff game, which Lake Oswego won 2-1 in overtime.

From the stands, it was almost impossible to tell what had happened. The only clue was provided by the celebrating players, at least the ones that could be seen through the dense cover of fog that enveloped Lake Oswego School District Stadium.

Those players had the only decent look at the most important goal of the year for the Lake Oswego girls soccer team. That goal, which Mady Johnson scored on a header with 2:14 left in overtime, gave Lake Oswego a 2-1 victory over Southridge Tuesday night in the second round of the state playoffs.

That goal capped what had been a great game, at least the portion that could be seen by spectators.

'That was a very exciting game,' Lake Oswego coach Dominic Yambasu said afterward. 'Both teams played very, very well.'

Neither team seemed to be bothered too much by the thick fog, which almost obscured the field from those sitting in the stands. The players, though, had just enough visibility to avoid passing the ball to the wrong color jersey, even when the two players were 50 yards apart.

'It looked bad from the side,' Johnson said of the fog. 'But when you're on the field, you tried to get it out of your mind and play through it.'

The hard part was adjusting to the physical nature of the game. Nobody was allowed to receive the ball outside the goalie boxes without being grabbed, pushed or knocked to the turf. And seldom was any of it called by the officials.

For Johnson, who can play the physical style as well as anyone, her problem was just getting open. She was constantly double teamed, and sometimes she drew three defenders when she neared the goal.

That helped to keep the game scoreless through the first half. Then, the Lakers began to look for other options. Their best option early in the second half turned out to be junior forward Mimi Granlund.

Just two minutes into the second half, Granlund found herself on the receiving end of a crossing pass from Johnson. Granlund had somehow worked herself free in front of the goal and she one-timed Johnson's pass into the goal for the game's first goal.

That narrow lead lasted only about 10 minutes, though. Southridge tied the game at 1-all when Alex Earl received a corner kick in front of the net and quickly drilled a shot off the crossbar and into the goal.

Apparently, Earl was just getting warmed up, because she wreaked havoc on the Lake Oswego defense for the remainder of the second half. With Earl getting dangerously close several times, the Lakers had to feel fortunate that Southridge didn't win the game in regulation.

The closest call came with 14:15 left in regulation, when Earl had a close-range shot that she barely chipped over the top of the net.

'(Earl) is a wonderful player. She was the key to their play,' Yambasu said.

But Lake Oswego goalkeeper Kat Colson, who splits the time in net with first-team all-leaguer Ariana Green, was ready for virtually everything the Skyhawks threw at her in the second half.

After the game was tied, Colson ranged far from the net five times to intercept passes that easily could have led to Southridge goals.

Then, with 10 seconds left in the first of two overtime periods, Colson came up with the play that saved the game for the Lakers. A breakdown on defense left the Hawks' Megan Rupp with a one-on-one chance against Colson. After seeing a slight opening to her right, Rupp stopped her run about 18 yards out and fired away.

The ball appeared to be headed for the near corner of the net when Colson made a diving stop that knocked the ball out of bounds just before the period ended.

'That was some amazing goaltending there,' Yambasu said of Colson's net minding. 'Kat came out and made a very reactionary save, which was just wonderful.'

'Kat was amazing with her saves. I love her,' Johnson said. 'She really stepped it up for this game.'

Colson's save made a huge difference in the way Lake Oswego approached the second overtime period. Instead of having to play for the equalizer, the Lakers were able to take their time and look for a good shot.

That opportunity came at the 2:14 mark, when Gabby Lindeman placed a corner kick perfectly in front of the Southridge net. Johnson was on the spot and she didn't give the ball time to settle. Instead, she headed it into the net, which set off a celebration among those who could see what was happening.

It was Johnson's team-leading 17th goal of the season but she was quick to give her teammates equal credit for her latest tally.

'(Southridge) was so tough on defense that we all had to contribute on offense to make it happen,' Johnson said.

Johnson also had a good chance to score in the first overtime period, when she found a partially open net after receiving a nice crossing pass from Megan Hoss. But the Lakers' junior forward ended up putting that ball over the net.

'I didn't keep my foot down and I didn't stay focused,' Johnson said of her missed shot.

The next time Johnson got close, she decided to use her head instead of her foot. It turned out to be a wise choice.

Now, the Lakers will move on a Saturday quarterfinal match-up against Tigard.

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