West Linn tops the Pacers 9-8 on the road to stay unbeaten in Oregon

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn midfielder Cooper Hill looks to advance the ball against a Lakeridge defender during last week's 9-8 victory over the Pacers. The win moves the Lions into sole possession of first place in the league. The West Linn boys lacrosse team picked up its biggest win of the season last week, topping defending state champion Lakeridge 9-8. The Lions continued to build on their reputation as being one of the most poised teams in the state despite featuring a strong sophomore class.

West Linn played terrific defense, particularly in the second-half and avenged last year's loss in the title game by topping the Pacers on their home field.

“We've been very resilient. No matter who's been hurt or what's been thrown at us, we've been able to battle through it,” coach Mark Flood said.

Both teams played with confidence in the first half, trading goals in a very even first two quarters. Defense was a point of emphasis for both squads as they looked to shut down the opposing team's speed.

“We really didn't want them to get out in transition and they wanted to stop us from running as well,” Flood said.

West Linn jumped out to an early lead behind a pair of goals from Ryan Klose but the Pacers would rally.

Lakeridge started to assert itself offensively in the second quarter, scoring four of its eight goals and it built a 6-5 advantage at the half.

The Lions made some adjustments at the break and played perhaps their best lacrosse of the night in the third quarter.

Dylan Tuor made a significant impact again on face-offs and the Lions also did well on ground balls but hurt themselves uncharacteristically with turnovers.

Still, the Lions were able to rattle off three unanswered goals to go up 8-6.

Lakeridge would break its scoring drought late in the quarter, making it a one-goal game with one period to play.

West Linn also did well to take advantage of its man-up opportunities. The Lions were able to find the cracks in Lakeridge's athletic defense following penalties. Cooper Hill had a terrific goal in the game for West Linn when the Lions were man-up.

“We've been waiting for that from him. He just has a cannon,” Flood said.

The final quarter was intense with both teams being deliberate on offense and valuing possession. However, West Linn was able to come up some crucial stops in the final minutes to preserve a big win.

Klose would finish the game with five goals and two assists while Ian Anderson had a goal and two assists.

Seven of West Linn's nine goals were assisted which was a key for West Linn.

“Lakeridge is so quick on defense that if the ball stops, you're just dead. So moving the ball quickly was a big key for us,” Flood said.

The Lions then drubbed a strong Clackamas team 20-4 Tuesday. The Cavaliers, a team known for playing stingy defense, fell behind 13-0 after the first quarter and West Linn never looked back.

Flood also credited the large student section on hand for helping carry the Lions in the close contest.

“That was really great to see and to have those guys behind our bench really gave us a boost,” Flood said.

The Lions can ill-afford to rest on their laurels, however. West Linn takes on Lakeridge again Tuesday at home at 8 p.m.

“We know we've probably ticked them off now,” Flood said.

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