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Crusader girls soccer ends season strong

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton goalie Kylee Coon and Jesuits Lexi Frey go up for a corner kick in the first half of the Crusaders 1-0 win over the Beavers.

Don’t adjust the settings on your computer screen.

That goose egg sitting under the Jesuit girls’ soccer team’s “goals allowed” category on OSAA.org is in actual fact, correct.

Through 14 regular season games, the Crusaders did not give up one score. As in zilch. Zero. Nada. Playing against top flight Metro League teams — in what many coaches consider the best conference in the state — and taking on a tough preseason schedule, Jesuit’s impregnable defense locked the field up game-in and game-out, alleviating pressure from its improving offense.

The backline of Lexi Frey, Ilyssa Holt, Anna Choruby and Jessica Bramlett was once again Jesuit’s backbone against Beaverton on Thursday, holding the Beavers to just one shot on goal on senior night.

Crusader senior forward Dani Brown delivered all the offense Jesuit needed. Scoring from deep inside Beaver territory in the first half, Brown handed her team a 1-0 lead that held up for Jesuit’s 11th win of the year. The victory also capped an unblemished regular season and clinched the Metro League Championship.by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior forward Dani Brown dives into the middle of the Beaverton defense before getting off a goal during the Crusaders 1-0 win on Thursday.

“Going into it, we were just mentally ready and pumped for senior night,” said Holt. “Our defense, we come out every game knowing that we have to do what we have to do. We mark up on our players, and make sure we’re covering for each other. When we go in for tackles, we go in hard, and we definitely showed that tonight.”

Ordinarily, Beaverton’s Inca Gunter said, Jesuit runs circles around Beaverton with its passing vision and ability to create from the outside into the box. However, the Beavers kept fighting with Jesuit, and Gunter was a big reason why. Three times in the second half, the junior forward made a daring run down the pitch into Jesuit land, only to be met and stopped by Frey. Going into the 6A “Play-In” round, Gunter said it was a good confidence-builder to hang with the No. 1 in the state, for once. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton freshman Payton Moore shoots an attempt in front of Jesuit senior defender Jessica Bramlett in the second half of the Beavers 1-0 loss.

“It was definitely nice to not get demolished, honestly,” said Gunter with a laugh. “We definitely improved from the last time we played them (a 5-0 loss). We kept the ball more, and toward the second half, we started to fight for the 50-50 balls. That was definitely an improvement. We kept up with them.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior forward Simone Herzberg battles Beavertons Kelli Priest for a ball inside Crusader territory during Jesuits 1-0 win.

Brown was the Crusaders’ primary offensive devisor, especially in the first half, when the senior forward had three shots on goal and a cross to Simone Herzberg, who also got off a good look at the goal. With 31:08 to go in the first half, Brown took a pass from Melisande Gavin in the final third with Beaverton’s Kelli Priest fixed to her jersey.

Priest tried to dig the ball away from Brown, but the Crusader wasn’t having any of that. Brown wheeled into the box, and with three Beavers creeping in, snipped a shot into the left corner pocket of the net for the go-ahead goal.

“It took a little bit of a deflection, so it was kind of lucky,” said Brown. “But, it was a good grind out goal. And, it was a good way to grind out a win.

“We had our moments where we connected really well,” added Brown. “The midfielders and the forwards were able to make runs through each other. We just couldn’t get the next goal, but I think it was good to build off of. We had a lot of good possesion in the final third. It’s just about getting the final ball on target.”

The way Jesuit’s played demanding defense this season, a one-goal advantage might as well have been five.

Frey, Holt, Choruby and Bramlett doused any fire Beaverton attempted to spark with sound technical skills in the back and the sort of interaction that’s produced through years of partnership.

“All of us are really strong and just want to win,” said Frey. “We’ve been on varsity since our freshman year, and we’ve just been working hard. That was our goal for the season, to make sure we didn’t get scored on.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton freshman Payton Moore shoots an attempt in front of Jesuit senior defender Jessica Bramlett in the second half of the Beavers 1-0 loss.

Holt said that since Jesuit’s defense is comprised of all seniors, each of the backliners knows who’s going to attack the ball and who’s going to hawk the rest of the opponents’ offense. The defense can communicate freely, having such a strong rapport, and Brown said they’re never out of sorts.

“Playing with each other all four years is a huge asset for us,” said Brown. “In the back, they know how each other plays, and it stays organized all the time. It’s a good complement to our goal keepers, too. They’ve made some really good saves that have kept us in the game. Our whole back and goal keepers have been remarkable.”

Beaverton’s defense held its own, too, by preserving its formation and getting a huge assist from goalie Kylee Coon. The senior keeper made five saves, three from point-blank range, where Coon had to get her hands up in a hurry to stop a speeding scuttle shot.

“We stepped it up and played our hearts out,” said Coon. “I try to play my best all the time, and talk to the team and boost them up. I try to keep them playing their best.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton freshman Cassy Harrigan readies to shoot against the Jesuit defense during the Beavers competitive 1-0 loss on Monday.

Gunter said Beaverton’s developed much more from the beginning of the season because the incoming freshmen such as Cassy Harrigan, Payton Hudspeth and Payton Moore have improved.

“We’ve started to play as a team,” said Gunter. “At first, it was kind of hard to know how the freshmen played, but now we’re starting to get the hang of it. It’s starting to show. We always make the playoffs because we’re in Metro, but I think this year we have a chance at going far.”

With the 6A state playoffs commencing this week, the Crusaders can start wiping away the excruciating memories from their 2012 5-4 state championship defeat to Thurston in which Jesuit lost via penalty kicks.

“That’s on everybody’s mind going into the playoffs,” said Brown. “We all know how it feels, and we don’t want to feel that way again. I think we’re ready to step it up this year and take it all the way.”

This season’s senior-stacked squad is self-assured and primed for the stretch run, Holt says, because of their affinity for each other on and away from the pitch.

“We have such a great bond, and I love my teammates,” said Holt. “I want to play for them and give 100 percent for them. I feel so confident going into the playoffs. We know what we have to do. We need to end our senior year on a really good note.”

“We have the best chemistry we’ve had in four years,” said Brown. “There’s no drama. We all love each other. And, I think that really shows well on the field. We know how each other plays, and there’s nothing keeping us from playing at our best.”




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