The Lions win their way into their first state championship game.
The 2022 West Linn girls soccer team is going where no Lion team has gone before.
In this case, West Linn is headed to the Class 6A state championship game for the first time in school history, that after the Lions beat Lake Oswego 1-0 in the Class 6A state semifinals at West Linn High School on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
“This is the farthest we’ve made it in our program history. It is insane,” said West Linn junior midfielder/defender and team captain Kate Cheldelin, who scored the lone goal in her team’s Tuesday semifinal.
“It feels really good,” said Lion freshman midfielder Kylee Schreck, who assisted on Cheldelin’s goal. “It’s my first playoffs and going into the finals feels really good.”
“It was all about hard work. It was a hard game,” said WL senior midfielder/defender and team captain Kelan Betts. “They came to battle and so did we.”
With the win, the second-ranked Lions’ seventh straight, West Linn extended its season-long unbeaten streak to 17 games and improved its overall record to 14-0-3 after winning the Three Rivers League. No. 7 Lake Oswego, meanwhile, saw its four-game winning streak snapped and ended its season with a 10-6-2 overall record after finishing second in the TRL.
“I’m obviously sad that my Lake Oswego girls soccer career is over, but I couldn’t be more proud to be on this team and play with the people around me,” said Lake Oswego senior midfielder and team captain Natalie Redpath.
“I think the captains did a great job leading us,” said Laker senior defender Maja Hunter. “I thought we had a great team. We were always trying to work our hardest and just keep showing up and fighting for the last game, to push on further than we did last season.”
“I think that’s what’s so amazing about this group of girls is that we all fight hard and we fight for each other,” added Laker senior midfielder and team captain Megan Ko. “This game was obviously tough, but we fought ‘til the end.”
Next up, the Lions will face top-ranked Metro League champion Jesuit (18-0-0 overall after beating No. 5 Tualatin 1-0 in overtime in its semifinal) in the Class 6A state championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Hillsboro Stadium.
West Linn’s players know that Jesuit will present a challenge, but believe they are up for it.
“I think we have to go out there and we have to want it,” Cheldelin said. “At the end of the day, if we all work hard and we all win our individual (one-on-one) battles, then we got it.”
“If we all work together as a team, that’s going to be our key to success,” Betts said. “That and coming out strong and just connecting our passes and playing our game. Communicating through the entire team and just taking practice really seriously this week and then coming out ready to battle and I think we can do it.”
West Linn and Lake Oswego battled on even terms through the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’s game, but the Lions broke through for the winning score soon thereafter. With 28 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the first half, Schreck passed the ball from the middle of the field to Cheldelin on the left sideline. She took the ball to the endline, turned toward the Lake Oswego goal, took a touch to elude the final Laker defender and beat LO junior goalkeeper Sadie Gardner to the right corner of the goal to score.
“I was running up the side of the field, Kylee sent me an amazing ball and I was like, ‘I think I can do it,’’ Cheldelin said. “I thought ‘One more touch’ and then it hit the net and it’s always just the best feeling when it hits the net. It just feels like everything we’ve been working for pays off.”
“I saw Kate running … and I passed her the ball and she got it into the goal,” Schreck said.
While Lake Oswego didn’t score on Tuesday, the Lakers held the upper hand in the final 20 minutes of the first half and created two dangerous chances that very nearly tied the game. The first of those came on a Ko shot from the left corner that glanced off the far post of the Lions’ goal and was smothered by West Linn senior keeper Kya Jeffrey before LO junior Anjali Cherian could follow up with 17 minutes to go in the half.
The second of those Laker chances came when senior forward Kaitlyn Sasadeusz hit a hard shot from the top right corner of the West Linn penalty box that Jeffrey dove to stop in the final minute of the half.
While neither team scored in the second half, the Lions dominated possession and control for the first 35 minutes, with West Linn racking up five shots on goal and two corner kicks in that span.
The Lakers, meanwhile, rallied in the game’s final five minutes, getting their best scoring chance of the contest in the final 30 seconds of regulation. There, Cherian sent a pass from the left corner of the field across the West Linn goal mouth to Sasadeusz, who tried to run onto the ball at the far post but got there too late to connect.
“That was a scary moment, but with the hard work and pressuring her, we didn’t let her get a shot off,” Betts said. “It just came down to (the fact that) we work as a team through the midfield to the defense to the forwards to the goalie.”
“I’m proud of the fight we had because we are a team that struggles if go down — we hang our heads — but this is the hardest we’ve ever come back,” Redpath said. “We gave it everything we had. We had opportunities and we just got unlucky and we couldn’t put them away.”
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