The Lions fend off Southridge to earn a trip to the semis for the first time in a decade

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Members of the West Linn boys lacrosse team celebrate after a goal from Ryan Klose (No. 4) in its quarterfinal win over Southridge last week.The West Linn boys lacrosse team fended off a late rally from a strong Southridge squad in the quarterfinals last Friday and advanced to its first Final Four since 2003.

“This was the goal. It's what these kids talked about all year,” coach Mark Flood said.

The Lions controlled the majority of the game on their home field, getting a strong defensive effort to turn back a handful of Southridge runs.

West Linn scored the first two goals of the game, both off the stick of Ryan Klose 40 seconds apart.

Southridge rebounded to tie the game with a pair of goals of its own but West Linn would take control late in the first quarter.

The Lions capitalized on a man-up opportunities, getting the go-ahead goal from Zach Gaunt. Kloswe would then scored again and West Linn would make it 5-2 with 1:20 left in the quarter on a shot by Graeme Henderson.

Southridge scored again with three seconds left in the quarter and made it it 5-4 early in the second period.

West Linn's Dalton Tuor was solid on the draw for the Lions, helping give West Linn a possession advantage in the game. Southridge had some extended possession early in the second quarter and threatened to tie the game but West Linn's back line held firm.

“Our defense has been steadily improving all year,” Flood said.

The Lions would extend their advantage shortly after the Skyhawks cut the lead to one.

Aaron Nelson scored on a pass from Jack McMenomey and, 30 seconds later, Ryan Bowers scored on a bounce shot..

McMenomey notched his first goal of the game late in the half to make it 8-5 at the break.

After a third-quarter goal from Tuor, Southridge made another run to make it 9-7 midway through the period.

However, the Lions had another answer and used a late burst to all but put the game away. Bowers scored with three minutes left and McMenomey scored a minute later.

West Linn capped its run at the buzzer when McMenomey tossed in another goal after absorbing a hit to make it 12-7.

Southridge refused to give in and mounted a late run, scoring three unanswered goals in the fourth quarter but ran out of time against the Lions.

“At this point, all that matters is advancing. We weren't thrilled with giving up goals late but they didn't really threaten,” Flood said.

West Linn has avoided the injury bug in the playoffs this year and it has paid off in the form of one of the program's most impressive runs in years.

The Lions took on Jesuit in the semifinals on Wednesday evening at Tigard High School but results weren't available at press time.

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