It was the catchphrase that first caught on and then caught fire for the Jesuit girls soccer team long before the season began
"Calm is contagious."
What cost the Crusaders a Class 6A state championship last season wasn't a void of talent or technical skill or a lack of team identity, but more so a frantic mindset that made Jesuit press and rush in big games.
"Calm is contagious" morphed into the Crusaders' rallying cry. Huge Metro League match? Play composed. Tight quarterfinal bout against Tualatin? Remain cool-headed and carry on with a level frame of mind, never too high, never too low. It started with the seniors such as Emma Treasure and Sophie Braun and spanned to Jesuit's ridiculously loaded underclassmen. The senior captains led with an egalitarian even-tempered demeanor and it trickled down.
The 6A state championship match would give some teams reason to fret. With a supremely motivated Sunset squad coming in seeking vengeance for a regular season setback, the Crusaders could have let the magnitude of the moment overwhelm them as it once did.
Instead, they kept calm and carried that to an unforgettable magnum opus performance that was a domineering as it was serene. Jesuit pounced on an early 2-0 halftime lead thanks to goals from Treasure and Callan Harrington and kept the gas pedal down in the second half to soar to a 4-0 state title win over Sunset on Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.
"We're all on cloud nine," Treasure said with a smile. "The seniors were incredible. The leadership was outstanding. We played with all of our hearts and to have fun, not thinking about the outcome. We focused on why we chose to play the game in the first place. We brought it back to our basic passing mentality. We moved for each other and played for each other and not individually."
"After all the hard work and training, we really deserve this," Harrington said. "I give a lot of credit to our seniors and (head coach Steve) Fennah. They were the ones who helped us get here."
Sunset reached the 6A state title for the third time in four years, an outstanding accomplishment for a program that lost six crucial seniors off last season's state runner-up team. Inauspiciously, the Apollos have settled for second place at the state level, but every program in the state would kill to take the silver medal once, let alone three times in four seasons. Senior goalie Bridgette Skiba was arguably the state's best keeper, a fearless last line of defense who flourished in the playoffs throughout her Apollo tenure and help take Jesuit out of the playoffs at Cronin Field in 2016. Fellow seniors Ally Thom, Nadia Coates and Emily Wenzel were multiple-year mainstays who were invaluable in keeping Sunset in the upper crest of state this season. There's no doubt Sunset is here to stay under head coach Ben Durano.
The Apollos were just jumped by a Jesuit unit fixated on its second state crown in three years.
The No. 1 team in 6A and the No. 2 team in the USA Today Super Max poll played perhaps its best wire-to-wire game of the season and proved they were more than deserving of the rankings bestowed on them. Jesuit's stratum of stars bridged from class to class. Treasure, the high-scoring forward who played her best in the playoffs throughout her career and all-state speedy defender Sydney Collins are going to the University of Cal-Berkeley. Braun, who started all four years for Fennah as an aggressive, smart midfielder, is committed to Gonzaga. A number of potential collegiate players on this team could up end in the double digits by the time Harrington and her sophomore teammates graduate. But for all the potential, for all the talent, there was still a strong sense of amity and companionship among the Crusaders.
"This team has been amazing all year," Braun said. "I think we knew we would get to this point, we just had to be ourselves and get the job done. The chemistry and 'team' feeling has just been so much different on this team. We're all super close. We could always turn to each other. We've never had such a tight-knit group that gets along so well."
"We played together and played as a team," Treasure said. "We're all from different clubs, but we came together so perfectly and that's what got us here."
Tied up at 0-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first half, Harrington took a touch from senior midfielder Camille Clark, hot-footed past an Apollo defender into the final third of the field. Harrington saw Skiba in her sights and chipped the ball toward the right corner of the net as the Oregon State commit ran out of the box to try and disrupt the sophomore forward's vision. The ball bounced into the net for the 1-0 score.
Through the first four games of the postseason, Jesuit played in fits and starts, displaying moments of brilliance mixed in with batches of irregular offense brought on by teams packing the box, hoping to not get embarrassed by the commanding Crusaders. But against Sunset, the Crusaders created nine shots, seven in the first half, and five shots on goal. Harrington scored another goal in the second half to go up 3-0. The sophomore sensation came off the bench in each half and made an undeniable impact coming in and giving Jesuit juice.
"The last two games Callan's played incredible," Treasure said. "She's come out with confidence that I know she has. She's stuck it by keepers and stayed calm and composed. I'm really proud of her for that."
The side judge initially ruled Harrington was offsides, but after the referee crew conferenced out around midfield, the sophomore's score stood.
"I have a lot of faith in Callan because I know how hard she works," Braun said. "I knew she'd put it in the back of the net."
Seven minutes later Treasure bent a picturesque curving left-to-right shot that caught the wind and picked up velocity on its descent. The ball orbited over the jumping, outstretched Skiba who was guarding the front post and split between two Sunset defenders who tried to head the ball away into the net to extend Jesuit's lead to 2-0.
"It went perfectly," Treasure said with a smile. "I've scored goals like that in practice, but to see one go in, in a game like this, was really cool."
"That was beautiful," Braun said. "It couldn't have played out any better than that."
Harrington, Treasure, Braun and sophomore goalie Mary Votava are after-practice regulars, often staying after two-hour training sessions for extra shots on everything from corners to free kicks, to penalty kicks and anything involving finishing that might need polishing. It's tedious, dedicated work that can get tiresome after a long season. But nevermore was that extra drilling more apparent than in the first half against Sunset when Harrington and Treasure gave Jesuit a lead it would never let go of. The forwards' first-half finishes were byproducts of the toil and industry they put in on their own, in an effort to be great, to prepare themselves for when their number was called.
Ahead 2-0 on a pair of goals that couldn't have played out more superlatively, Jesuit's calm confidence skyrocketed, while Sunset looked stunned.
"I could feel us rising and (Sunset) kind of depleting," Braun said. "Give Sunset credit, they came out to play. But we were able to get momentum on our side, and after those two goals we were able to ride it for the rest of the game."
Seven weeks ago, when Jesuit and Sunset first met during the regular season, Treasure and Harrington each scored in the first 10 minutes to jump-start a 2-0 lead. Yet, the Apollos battled back, concocting a number of second-half shots that didn't go in, but gave Sunset belief that they could scrap with one of the best teams in the nation.
The second half of the state championship, however, resembled little of the powers' first match. Sunset put two shots on goal, one from Kendsy Carmichael and the other from Cali Carmichael, but Votava was able to save both of them. Collins and the Crusader defense, which allowed just two goals all season, was physical and suffocating for 80 minutes. Harrington scored her second goal to make it 3-0 in the 53rd minute and freshman Madeliene Koleno, who might be Treasure's heir apparent in the future, tacked on another with a header five minutes later to extend the edge to 4-0.
It was the final curtain call for Treasure, Braun, Collins, Clark, Holly Hartmeier Brooke Bordonaro, Elise Adams and Lauren Rubenstein. Jeusit's team managers Lena Colson and Christina Beardall were also important behind-the-scenes pieces to the Crusaders' team success.
Skiba and her Sunset senior class exited the program with three state title appearances and semifinal berth.