by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Jack Cowan, left, tries to corral a loose ball during Tuesday’s playoff game against Westview. Looking on is Westview’s Nic Watson, a former Laker.

The Westview boys soccer team had the perfect strategy for the start of Tuesday night's second-round playoff game against Lake Oswego.

With the help of a thick layer of fog that covered Lake Oswego's field, Westview was able to benefit from some initial confusion by the Lakers' defense. As some of the Lakers searched for the opponents they were supposed to be marking, Westview's Ryan Hill slipped unnoticed behind the defense and scored the game's only goal just 2½ minutes into the contest.

After scoring that goal and seeing the trouble Lake Oswego had experienced with the fog, the top-ranked Wildcats shifted much of their attention of their defense, which kept Lake Oswego bottled most of the night.

'Unfortunately, we didn't get ourselves woken up for the very beginning (of the game),' Lake Oswego coach Fraser Morrison said.

Many of the fans hadn't even settled into their seats yet when Hill scored his early goal. Of those who were seated, very few of them saw what happened because of the dense fog.

'With the fog, it was difficult to tell what was going on,' Morrison said.

That was from the perspective of those on the field. So, it was easy to see how Hill could slip behind the Lake Oswego defense without being seen.

'By the time the ball got back there, there were a couple of people unmarked,' Morrison said.

Hill's unmarked teammate actually fired the first shot during that initial surge. Lake Oswego goalie Greg Fillmore managed to stop that shot. But the rebound bounced to Hill and he didn't waste any time in putting it away.

After that early breakdown, the Lakers, who finished third in the Three Rivers League, were able to hold their own against a formidable opponent.

The Lakers even had two decent chances to tie the game. The best opportunity came late in the first half when Jackson Ray was able to break free down the left flank. Ray drilled a 15-yard shot that appeared to be headed for the back of the net.

'It looked like a bit of a rocket from where I was,' Morrison said.

But, goalie Alex Watson (formerly of Lake Oswego) stepped up to make a big save.

To be fair, Westview also could have blown the game open with a pair of excellent scoring chances in the second half, but neither materialized. In the end, it was the fog that wound up playing a dominant role in the game.

'I think it definitely made the game a bit more difficult,' Morrison said of the fog. 'It hindered everybody's ability to play.

'Well, at least the fog helped the (LO) girls win,' the coach said, noting their 2-1 overtime win against Southridge.

The Lake Oswego boys advanced to the second round with a convincing 4-0 victory over Canby. It was a game that was played on the Cougar's narrow, natural grass field that was partially torn up after hosting a number of football games this fall.

After winning their league and receiving a first-round game at home, the Cougars entered last Saturday's game with a lot of confidence. But Morrison countered with an aggressive, attacking style that had Canby on its heels from the opening kickoff.

'The field was more narrow than what they're used to,' Morrison said. 'So they did a good job of getting the ball down and playing it quickly.'

The game was just 100 seconds old when the Lakers gave a glimpse of the control they would exercise that day. The action started with Ryo Asai and Cale Bigelow 'playing catch' with a series of headers in front of the Canby net. Asai then fired a header that was just wide to the left.

Two minutes later, Joseph Ginn nearly connected on a header after receiving a corner kick from Troy Hall. Then, in the game's eighth minute, Sam Peaslee blasted a long, free kick that required the Canby goalie to make a diving save to keep it out of the net.

So, it was no surprise when Lake Oswego finally did score at the 32:23 mark of the first half. That tally was set up by Hall's corner kick, which arrived in front of the goal at the same time Danny MacNaughton did. When he saw the goalie lunge to his left, MacNaughton put the shot through the hole the goalie had just vacated.

Lake Oswego made it 2-0 at the 20:25 mark of the first half when Hall scored on a long pass from Thomas Iwasaki. The Canby goalie tried to beat Hall to the long pass, but Hall got there first and chipped the ball over the goalie's head.

The Lakers' third goal came with 11:21 left in the opening half. It was set up when a Canby defender was unable to clear the ball from his zone. Ray was there to scoop up the errant pass and he easily scored on a one-on-one shot to the far post.

Ray picked up his second goal in the game's 48th minute. This time, Ray used his body to shield a defender from Andrew Remlinger's long pass. Ray then drew the goalie out of the net and fired a shot pass him to the far post.

'I think that was kind of a composed performance,' Morrison proudly said afterward. 'Our boys went out there and did a good job.'

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