The Journey To The State Title Game

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore.–  The journey of the Lakeridge Boys Soccer season has been an unique one.

Though you could ask why looking at the Pacers being second-ranked in all of 6A and sitting without a loss at 15-0-3 and dominate on both sides of the ball, but Lakeridge came out slow but are hitting their stride as they head to the 6A State Title Game Saturday.

“There’s been some challenges, as obviously with any campaign will do but I think overall we’re undefeated still and we got one game to go,” said Pacer Head Coach Jason Bell “As the season goes, it’s much more than that.  We scored a ton of goals and defensively we’ve been fantastic.  I’m really happy.”

They entered the playoffs with the second-seed as they shutout Roosevelt, won a shootout duel with Forest Grove before getting a quality win over Central Catholic Thursday 2-0 when they entered their semi-final game against a familiar foe in Jesuit.

The history itself against the Crusaders goes all the back to the 1980s, maybe further back, as Jesuit defeating the Pacers in the 1986 State Title game as the two squad met five times since 2004 in the playoffs, including three times in the Semi-Final round including Tuesday’s match-up with both teams splitting during that span since 2004.

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Lakeridge Goalkeeper Cole Evered (1) goes up for the save Tuesday versus Jesuit.  The Pacer defense has only allowed 18 goals all year (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Paul Seydel proved why he’s scored nearly 30 goals this season as he scores off a rebound from a blocked Penalty Kick as Lakeridge led 1-nil at the halftime break.

Jesuit stepped up their game in the second half, but Jonny Rodas-Hill scored before the Crusaders got the goal back.  Both sides traded goals as the physicality of the game was there as the Pacers outlasted Jesuit 3-2 to go to their sixth State Title game in School history as Number One McMinnville await Satuday.

“I think Jesuit was a real big step for us and we handled them well, we had some struggles in the game,” said Seydel.  “But I think if we keep this intensity and we keep our calm and I think we’ll be able to beat McMinnville or any other team.”

Those struggles from the start of the season seem to be a distant memory as they celebrated with one another.

Hugging, jumping on one another, the emotions are there.

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The Lakeridge bench celebrating as time expired and pushing them to the 6A State Title Game (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“With most teams there’s a struggle at the start,” described Seydel on this journey.  “And I think that  because we all know each other and we go to school together, we became friends.

“Some of these guys that I’m not usually friends with, just because they’re younger or they take different classes, but together on the team we’re all friends and at the start we didn’t realize that, but then throughout our career together, we grew closer and that really helped us become the best team out here.”

Even with their Head Coach, the stern yet relaxed Bell, is pretty excited to be going to the big game, but knows his team still has one more huge task against the Grizzlies (17-0-1, 7-0-1 Greater Valley Conference) in a few days.

“They’ve been a powerhouse all year,” “We haven’t had a chance to see them too much yet, but I’m going to be trying to find out as much as I can about them and hopefully we can bring in from this game to another game and we’ll deal with it  and hopefully pull out with a win.

“I’m just really proud of them so far.”

The game will be held at Hillsboro Stadium in Hillboro Saturday at 3:30pm.

Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!

57 Free Photos (Pictures by Jeremy McDonald)

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