Lakewood Cougars downed by Red Wolves

DUVALL — For the second straight year the Cougars have gotten a wake-up call when jumping into Cascade Conference play.

Cedarcrest scored early and often to defeat Lakewood 5-0, March 22, in a match that saw the Cougars having a hard time holding onto the ball.

"That was our worst possession game of the season so far," said Lakewood manager Bryce Barker. "The guys played hard, but we just couldn't put anything together."

The Red Wolves were the beneficiaries of an own goal in the 13th minutes, when a Cedarcrest shot bounced off two players in a crowd before landing in the back of the net.

The match reminded Barker of the Cougars' 2010 conference opener, where his boys lost 8-0 at King's.

"On the bright side, it was a better showing than (the King's game)," he said.

Lakewood also wasn't at full strength, as captain and midfielder Brandon Ochoa was ill, which didn't help the Cougars in the possession battle in the midfield.

"I think this game just showed that we rely on Brandon too much, but it's hard not to with as talented as he is," said Barker.

Lakewood managed just three shots in the match — all in the second half. After taking a 2-0 lead into halftime, Cedarcrest poured it on in the second half, scoring three goals on set pieces.

"That just can't happen," Barker said. "When we have the time to get everybody set and that happens. That was a focus problem that would have been there with or without Brandon."

The Cougars were coming off a 2-1 nonconference win over Meridian, where they were successful in relying too much on the longball. That success didn't follow them into Duvall, as Cedarcrest's defense was too big to be exploited by anything but a possession-based offense.

"When you're starting three guys 5-9 or smaller, you're not going to win playing longball," said Barker. "And that's what we tried to do tonight."

The loss knocks Lakewood down to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in conference action. Barker hopes that this loss will have a similar effect to the King's loss a year ago, where his team responded with an upset win over Archbishop Murphy.

The Cougars play the Granite Falls Tigers at home April 1.

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