Jesuit boys' soccer wins second straight state championship

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit forward Chris Chertude celebrates his first half goal with Chase Boone and Charlie Chimento in the 6A state championship game against Central Catholic. Chertude also had an assist in the 2-1 victory

To win a state championship, a boys’ soccer team needs a lot of talent, and a dose of good fortune, some sort of unanticipated happening to transpire somewhere along the way.

In the 6A state championship game against Central Catholic on Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium, Jesuit had all the skill needed to be crowned the king of 6A. And, when the Rams gaffed up early in the first half, the Crusaders capitalized on their big break to make it back-to-back state titles.

Jesuit senior forward Chris Chertude scored just six minutes into the first half on a colassal miscommunication error by Central Catholic to go up 1-0, and junior forward Henry Rocker scored a minute into the second half to go up 2-0.

The Crusader defense gave up a goal in the 77th minute, but Jesuit was able to hold on late for the 2-1 score to repeat as state champs. Jesuit finished the year 17-1-1, and hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 2012.

“That was some of the best soccer we’ve played,” said senior forward Chase Boone. “We held the intensity the whole time. We were excited for the holy war. It’s senior year, so we had to go all out.”

“They’re a great team, and I think winning a state title means even more when you’re playing a team of that caliber,” added senior Christo Michaelson. “We knew it was our last game, so we didn’t want to leave anything on the field. We wanted to put our best foot forward into the game.”

With 33:50 remaining in the first half, a Ram defender tried to head the ball back to the Central goalie, so the keeper could punt it away and clear a harmless Crusade counter. But, the Central keeper charged the ball instead of letting it come into his mitts. He overran the bouncing ball, turned and flopped to the ground as it skipped over his head on the Hillsboro Stadium turf.

A chasing Chertude — who all season hustled to put himself in good position to score — retrieved the loose ball with his right foot, took one dribble to settle the ball and put home arguably the easiest goal of his illustrious career to go up 1-0.

Grinning and swaggering as he peeled back across the field toward the Central Catholic student section, Chertude brought his right hand toward his ear as if to ask the previously noisy crowd where all the noise went. Boone and Charlie Chimento popped their black jerseys with neon green Jesuit lettering toward the Central throng, to give the Ram faithful a friendly reminder of who was still No. 1, and still atop the throne.

As if there was a doubt in the minds of the Crusaders.

“As a forward, you’re always taught to never give up on those balls,” said Chertude. “I just saw the opportunity to continue my run, and if I hadn’t, we wouldn’t have got that early goal. Our team was unbelievable skill-wise, We just had to fix that effort part. By the end of the year, we figured that out.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit sophomore Chris Arpan controls a ball in front of a Central Catholic defender in the first half of the Crusaders state championship win on Saturday. Rocker   scored Jesuits second goal of the contest as well.

Chertude’s goal subdued the once rambunctious Central Catholic student section until the final minutes of the second half. And, the senior’s score seemingly sucked the spirit out of the Rams’ players, who only had one shot on goal in the first 40 minutes. So acclimated to playing front runner during the season and postseason, Central Catholic was suddenly, and somewhat embarrsingly, on the run.

“Everybody gets that first chance, and we’ve been working all year to finish it,” said Chertude. “We know once we do that, we’ll be able to control the rest of the game. I felt like I needed to put that away, to give us the lead we needed.”

Jesuit players defended like dobermans all afternoon, only allowing one shot on goal in the first half, and just four overall. Charlie Chimento, Michaelson, Spencer Scott, Pierce Baldocchi and Ulyl Acevedo-Chable put Central Catholic behind bars while goalie John Melito stopped two shots.

“We knew (Central) was going to come out 110 percent, and we just wanted to match that and continue our effort we had in the first half,” said Chertude.

Chimento noted Jesuit’s defensive prowess stemmed from the Crusaders’ collective attempts to press the ball in their own end of the field and prevent Central Catholic from leaking out into attacking areas. Jesuit was aware of how many shots and goals the Rams were rolling up during the regular season, so in practice, they focused on obtaining a team-wide defensive effort from the top to the backline.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Henry Rocker jumps for a ball in front of a Central Catholic goalie in the first half of the Crusaders state championship win on Saturday. Rocker scored Jesuit's second goal of the contest as well.

“It definitely started with the forwards’ defense” said Michaelson. “They pressed super hard and weren’t giving Central’s defense anything at all, so it made our jobs a lot easier.

Senior Charlie Chimento said Jesuit knew it was going to have to match Central’s passion and effort in the game’s opening minutes because the Rams were raring to discharge the Crusaders to a second-place trophy. A frenzied Jesuit crowd — spurred by a group of recently graduated seniors off last year’s championship team — helped cheer on the hyped Crusaders who often looked to the crowd for enticement and encouragement.

“We were all able to feed off that and put in the work we needed to, to win the game,” said Chimento.

“That was probably the best crowd I played in front of,” said Porreco. “It helped us play a lot more intense. They had our backs, it was great.”

In the opening minute of the second half, Porreco sent a pass to Chertude, who bounced the ball off his head to Rocker. Rocker took the goalie on, and used his body to put home what ultimately was the deciding goal for Jesuit.

“I knew something good would happen as long as I got the touch,” said Chertude. “Getting two goals early changed the game completely. We were able to get into our style of play, and we weren’t as frantic once we got those goals up.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior forward Antonio Porreco attacks the Central Catholic defense during the Crusaders 2-1 6A state championship triumph on Saturday.

“We felt like we were playing some of our best soccer,” added Porreco. “We were playing hard and intense. We also played the ball on the ground and played with skill. It shows how strong our program is, and it’s going to keep continuing.”

This season, Jesuit was so well-rounded, skilled and versatile with all the components of a great team: finishing, playmaking, strong defense and solid play in the goalie. To Boone, though, it was the Crusaders’ chemistry and selflessness that brought them the gold ball. For having so many gifted, well-known players with collegiate ability, there weren’t any egos amongst this bunch. Their best players like Chertude and Porreco were also the most unselfish, the type of players willing to turn down a shot to get their teammate a better look. That self-sacrifice permeated through the rest of the team early in the season, resulting in a team that was both entertaining to watch, but also put in the yeoman’s work needed to be a champion.

“We’re all best friends, no one’s left out,” said Boone. “I think that’s what helps us. We’re really skilled, but our chemistry beats teams. We always tried to do the best for the team, no matter what it is.”

Patrick Carley, Jake Brady, Landon Inman, George Newton, Chris Arpan and Kirubel Zewdie were also on the state-winning squad that was coached by Chris Thurley.

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