The Laker girls soccer team wins the Battle of the Lake; both teams prep for state playoffs.
There’s no two ways about it — the Three Rivers League girls soccer race has been a meat-grinder this year.
The TRL includes five of the state’s top 12 teams, four of Oregon’s top nine and there is never an easy game or a night off.
Just ask Lakeridge.
The Pacers entered their regular-season finale — the Battle of the Lake contest against Lake Oswego at Lake Oswego High School on Tuesday, Oct. 25 — ranked higher than the Lakers, with a better record than the Lakers, with more goals scored than the Lakers and fewer allowed.
All of which added up to a big fat nothing on Tuesday.
The Lakers stuck in two goals in the game’s first 5 minutes and 14 seconds and used that fast start to pace their 3-0 win over the Pacers at LOHS.
“We were really excited about this one game,” said Lake Oswego senior forward Kaitlyn Sasadeusz, who scored the Lakers’ third goal. “Not just because it’s senior night, but because it’s the last league game, the Battle of the Lake and we really wanted to take it.”
“I feel like we really played for our seniors and brought it out for our last league game,” said LO junior/midfielder Alix Shipton, who scored the game’s first goal.
With the win, No. 6 Lake Oswego snapped its one-game losing streak and finished TRL play in second place at 3-3-0 (7-5-2 overall). No. 8 Lakeridge, meanwhile, saw its one-game winning streak snapped and finished fourth in the TRL at 2-2-2 (9-3-2 overall).
“We didn’t come out too strong,” said Lakeridge senior midfielder/forward Reese Fitkin. “We were … very relaxed in the beginning and we need to (prevent those early goals) by coming out stronger.”
“Maybe we didn’t come out as strong as we would have liked, but in the second half, I thought we came back,” added Lakeridge senior defender Molly Bachman.
Next up, both teams will host first-round Class 6A state playoff games at times to be announced on Saturday, Oct. 29, with the Lakers hosting No. 27 Willamette (6-6-2 overall after placing fifth in the Southwest Conference).
“I feel like we just need to get in the right mindset and show up and play as hard as we can,” Shipton said of her team’s looming playoff opener. “I think if we’re not in the right mindset, it kind of throws the whole game off. We have to start early. We have to start intense early.”
“We’ve got to focus,” Sasadeusz said. “We’ve got to be ready, come in and go 100%. There are a few games where we were kind of 50-50, but if we come out like we did today, I think we’ve got it.”
The Pacers, meanwhile, will host No. 24 McDaniel (8-4-2 overall after placing fourth in the Portland Interscholastic League) in Saturday’s first round.
“We’ve gotten a lot better throughout the season and we’re really looking forward to playoffs and playing hard as a team again,” Bachman said.
“Since day one, we’ve grown so much and we’re ready for the playoffs,” Fitkin said. “Today wasn’t ideal for us … but we’re ready to fight in the playoffs.”
The Lakers opened Tuesday’s game at a dead sprint, their efforts kicked off when Shipton launched a long, angled shot from the right sideline and buried it in the top left corner of the Lakeridge goal just 4:12 into the contest.
There were more fireworks ahead — and they came almost immediately. This time, it was LO senior midfielder Megan Ko who did the honors just 1:32 after Shipton’s score, corralling the ball in the top right-hand section of the Pacers’ penalty box, then turning and knocking it into the upper left corner of the Lakeridge goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I definitely thought it was possible,” Sasadeusz said of her team’s fast start. “We knew coming into this season that (winning the Battle of the Lake) was one of the things we wanted to do. I think it was just a matter of being focused.”
While Lakeridge didn’t score on Tuesday, the Pacers did create some dangerous chances. Junior midfielder Sophia Dahlstrom came through with the first of those, sending a long kick toward the LO goal with 29 minutes left in the half. Laker junior goalkeeper Sadie Gardner deflected that attack away, the Pacers just missed on the ensuing follow shot, and when the ball came back to Dahlstrom, she hit another dangerous shot that Gardner stopped.
The second half followed a similar arc as the first, with the Lakers adding their third goal just 5:30 into the period. There, junior midfielder Annabelle Baggio sent a through ball to Sasadeusz 10 yards out of the Pacer goal, where she took one touch and scored at the far post for the final 3-0 margin.
While neither team scored in the remaining minutes, both teams kept pressing, with Lakeridge senior Scarlet Lemuz’s shot stopped by Gardner with 25 minutes to go, while Lake Oswego saw its final two shots saved by Pacer senior keeper Cami McCormack.
See the complete slideshow from this game by clicking here.
To see even more images from this game, or to buy prints or digital downloads from this game, go to milesvance.smug.com.