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West Linn hammers Roseburg but falls in the second round to a strong Clackamas team

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Madison Leek connects on a header for West Linn's second goal, knocking the ball in on a corner kick off the foot of Paige Myers in the team's 6-0 win over Roseburg. The Three Rivers League flexed its muscles all year in girls soccer and that pattern held form in the playoffs. All three teams who participated in play-in games won there matches, four teams advanced to the second round and three survived to the quarterfinals.

That number may have been four had West Linn and Clackamas not squared off in the round of 16 at Clackamas High School on Tuesday.

The Lions had the unenviable task of taking on the Cavaliers for the third time this year, after finishing with a tie and a loss in its two league matches.

On Tuesday, West Linn fell behind in the first half but battled back early in the second half before the Cavaliers capitalized on their opportunities down the stretch in a 5-2 victory that ended the Lions' season.

West Linn started the game exactly how it wanted to. The Lions were the aggressors and knocked Clackamas back on its heels from the opening whistle.

“It was the perfect way to start the game. We wanted to keep the ball down and spread the field. Clackamas was a little frantic,” coach Holly Popenuk said.

West Linn had a few early chances but the team was kept off the board and Clackamas started to find its footing.

Clackamas would dramatically shift the momentum with the game's first goal and would tack on another one on a hard shot from outside the goal box to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

“We still felt really good about our chances and the girls were still excited,” Popenuk said.

West Linn rallied, scoring early in the second half. A header by Madison Leek narrowly crossed the goal line to make it 2-1 and re-energize the team.

The Lions continued to generate chances but couldn't knock in the equalizer.

Clackamas continued to make the most of its opportunities. Midway through the half, the Cavaliers scored again and would end up making it 4-1.

West Linn continued to press but, late in the game, Popenuk started to sub out her seniors one by one to be recognized by the crowd.

“At that point we went to a 4-3-3 because we had nothing to lose and then I wanted to respect our seniors because they've put in so much work. It's not easy to finish as the No. 9 team in the state,” Popenuk said.

The Lions would get one more goal on a breakaway from Leek but fell 5-2. For Leek, the goal marked her 30th of the season in what was one of the most impressive efforts in the program's history.

West Linn advanced to the second round with a dominant 6-0 win over Roseburg last Saturday.

The Lions did waste much time seizing control of the game. After controlling the first 10 minutes of the game, West Linn broke through with 27:34 left in the first half.

Leek hit a hard shot that skipped over the Roseburg goalie's hands for the first score.

Leek followed with a shot that slammed off the goal post minutes later. Then, on a corner kick. Paige Myers made a perfect delivery into the box and Leek headed it in to put West Linn up 2-0.

Roseburg didn't have many opportunities in the game as the Lions kept steady pressure on the Indians.

Sophie Gabler sent a dangerous ball over the top and Katie Moller had a shot saved.

With 6:41 to play in the half, the Lions earned a free kick and Nicki Zavoshy hit a low shot that caromed into the net to make it 3-0.

“It was the perfect example of what we've practiced. The girls didn't even look tired after the game because they were letting the ball do the work for them,” Popenuk said.

West Linn all but put the game away at the half and continued its dominance after the break.

Leek scored two more goals, giving her four in the contest and Juliana Guthner added another to complete the scoring.

West Linn will graduate an enormous class of seniors this year but the program is still in good hands with a terrific turnout this fall.

“This group were all freshmen when I first started at West Linn and we lost a huge senior class that year too. Now we have 30 more freshmen who came out. People may say that next year is a rebuilding year but it doesn't feel like that. I have 11 girls right now who I'd be comfortable starting,” Popenuk said.

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