The Lions knock off Canby to stay just two points behind first place

The West Linn girls soccer team did what it needed to do on Tuesday to stay very much in the race for the league title. The Lions avenged one of their earlier losses this season, taking down Canby 2-0 to stay tied with Clackamas in the Three Rivers League, just two points behind Lakeridge.

However, of those three teams, West Linn has the most difficult road ahead, taking on both the Pacers and the Cavaliers to close out the season.

“It's stressful but the team's confident that they have it in them,” coach Holly Popenuk said.

Against Canby, the Lions put together a stellar effort defensively to thwart the Cougars' attack. Canby attacked from the defense all evening but West Linn figured out that strategy and was able to keep the Cougars off the board.

“We told the girls to be ready to run a lot. We wanted to prevent (Canby) from switching the field. If we could keep them on one side it would take their runners out of the game,” Popenuk said.

West Linn took some time to find its stride offensively. The Lions broke through just a few minutes before the half on a nice goal by Madison Leek. That helped West Linn take control of the game as the second half started.

The Lions were more organized in the second half and did an even better job combatting what Canby was attempting to do on offense.

Still, West Linn couldn't feel comfortable with just a one-goal lead and the Lions knew that anything other than a win would significantly hinder their league title chances.

The Lions put the game away with about 10 minutes to play. Nicole Campbell played a perfect ball to Leek who finished again as the Lions improved to 8-2-1 on the year.

West Linn has the luxury of playing both Lakeridge and Clackamas at home to finish the year and the Lions have had success against both teams having beaten the Pacers and tied the Cavaliers earlier in the season.

The Lions are currently ranked No. 6 in the state by the OSAA but still need some positive results to avoid a play-in game as Lake Oswego sits just four points behind both the Lions and Clackamas.

“We've tried to tell the girls not to even look at the standings. Ultimately it doesn't mean anything if we don't win these games,” Popenuk said.

West Linn plays Lakeridge tonight (Thursday) and plays Clackamas next Wednesday.

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