Pacer rally falls short in state title game
Lakeridge runs out of time after falling into a big hole against West Linn
The Lakeridge boys lacrosse team reached the state title game for the second straight season but ran into a West Linn squad determined not to let the Pacers deny them a title in back-to-back years.
The Pacers pulled away from No. 1 OES in the semifinals for a 14-9 win and then fell behind West Linn by 10 goals in the fourth quarter and ultimately saw its impressive late rally fall short in a 13-9 loss.
Lakeridge and West Linn were about as evenly matched as you could get this season. The Pacers dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to the Lions in the regular season and the championship was expected to be a toss-up.
However, Lakeridge simply took too long to find its rhythm against West Linn Saturday at Lake Oswego High School and would settle for second place.
It took an impressive second-half performance for the Pacers to reach the finals again. OES entered last Wednesday's game undefeated although the Aardvarks hadn't faced nearly the level of competition that Lakeridge has seen this year.
OES got off to a quick start, scoring the first three goals of the game. However, in what would be a game of runs, Lakeridge would respond with three of its own to tie the score.
Michael Ashworth, Taylor Douglas and John Finegan each got on the board to quickly bring the Pacers back into the game.
But that momentum would slow in the second quarter and OES would rally. The Aardvarks led 4-3 but then scored a pair of goals in 15 seconds to go up 6-3 with less than 50 seconds to play in the half.
Lakeridge responded with a crucial pair of plays to finish the period.
First Eleonso Cristobal made an impressive run through a pair of defenders and tossed in a goal and then, seven seconds later, Finegan scored right in front to cut the lead to 6-5 at the break.
A goal by Cam Troike midway through the third quarter tied the game again before OES would regain the lead moments later.
But that's when things shifted. Cristobal found another opening and quickly re-tied the game. Then, after the Pacers fought of a penalty, Lakeridge exploded late in the quarter. Finegan scored twice and Thomas Moore also put in a goal as Lakeridge scored three times in less than 30 seconds to suddenly go up 10-7 after never leading up to that point.
But OES wasn't done. The Aardvarks controlled the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring twice to cut it to 10-9.
However, with 2:35 remaining, Ashworth scored a crucial goal to shift the tide once more. Finegan would score off a turnover a few moments later to all but clinch the victory for the Pacers.
The win propelled Lakeridge into Saturday's state title showdown between the two preeminent powers in the state over the past two seasons.
Most people expected to see another defensive slugfest but West Linn had other ideas. After being a slow starting team for much of the year, the Lions opened the game with energy, dominating possession and taking a 4-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The teams then traded goals with Lakeridge getting one from JR McLaughlin to make it 5-2. The Pacers struggled on draws early in the contest and West Linn continued to get good looks at the goal. Lakeridge trailed 7-2 at the half but it could have been a larger deficit if not for some terrific saves by the Pacers' Jared Baumann.
West Linn continued to pour it on in the third quarter, scoring three quick goals in the first 90 seconds. The Lions' goalie also had some big saves to fight off a Pacer rally.
When the Lions scored early in the fourth quarter, they led 13-3 and the game appeared all but over. However, Lakeridge refused to give up easily. Cristobal scored off the ensuing draw and then found Ashworth moments later for another goal.
Ashworth would end up scoring three straight times as the Pacers also won three consecutive face-offs and suddenly the score was 13-7 with still more than nine minutes to play.
Lakeridge was the aggressor for almost the entirety of the fourth quarter but the clock was its enemy. Corey Rich would score twice, the second goal coming with 1:38 to play to make it 13-9. However, West Linn won the next face-off and was able to run crucial time off the clock, ultimately preserving the victory.
Lakeridge will graduate a strong group of seniors this year but both the Pacers and Lions will bring back exceptionally strong teams next year to resume what is perhaps the best boys lacrosse rivalry in the state currently.