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One goal is all it takes this time around

Youthful Jesuit takes out shorthanded Westview 1-0 in a key Metro matchup
by: MILES VANCE, BONK — Jesuit junior midfielder Kelsey Dripps heads the ball away from Westview senior midfielder Katie Brown during the Crusaders’ 1-0 win last Thursday night.

BEAVERTON - Jesuit's girls soccer team may have lost the aura of invincibility it carried during the 1990s, when it won six straight state championships and more than 100 consecutive matches, but make no mistake, the Crusaders are still very, very good.

Youthful Jesuit, which regularly plays four freshman and carries eight on its varsity roster, made sure Westview was aware of its status last Thursday, beating the Wildcats 1-0 at Jesuit High School to improve to 3-0-1 in Metro League play and take sole possession of first place. Westview, which played without injured first-team all-leaguer Jenna Krogh, fell to 2-2-0 and fourth place.

'They were expected to win the Metro so this was good,' said Jesuit junior midfielder Kelsey Dripps, who scored the night's only goal. 'But every night's a test.'

'This Metro League is so well balanced this year,' said Jesuit coach Ken Skipper. 'Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We have to be 'up' every game to be able to compete.'

Jesuit, which got its lone goal with 19 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the opening half, was definitely 'up' at the start of its contest against Westview, and the Crusaders' fast start played a big part in its successful finish.

'We knew they were going to be good so we just started out a little timid,' said Westview junior midfielder Olivia Dupon. 'We just need to start off strong and we can play with anybody.'

The Crusaders' strong start, and its strong play in the back and defensive midfield, also played a big part in Jesuit's victory.

'The biggest problem we had was with Jesuit's size in the middle of the field,' said Wildcats' coach Chris Martin. 'They were quite a bit bigger and stronger, and as a result, we lost possession in the middle of the field.'

During Jesuit's strong start, the Crusaders dominated possession, got three corner kicks in the first 16 minutes, and got a good header on goal from Charlotte Dugoni that was stopped by Westview keeper Erin Bochnak 24 minutes into the match.

Jesuit got its goal five minutes later when junior defender Brittany Davis-Roberti took the ball into the Westview penalty box and crossed it to Dripps. Dripps was all alone 10 yards away from the Wildcat goal, and she headed it past Bochnak to the right post with 19:55 left in the half.

'I saw I was open and called for the ball and it was a perfect cross,' Dripps said of her first goal of the year. 'No one was on me and then I turned around and saw it go in.'

'The one goal they had was a good one,' Martin said. 'We probably could have marked a little better, but it was a nice goal.'

While that ended up as the only goal of the match, the Wildcats did rally in the final 15 minutes of the first half, got shots from Dupon and Katie Coghlan and went into the second half feeling a little better about their chances.

'Our defense held together pretty well considering how much pressure we were under for a majority of the first half,' said Martin, noting that the addition of senior Laura Harvey to the midfield helped negate Jesuit's edge in the middle. She 'has a bit more size than (Maureen) Fitzgerald and she helped neutralize some of Jesuit's size.'

The two teams traded possession and shots in the second half, with Westview recording just as many, and just as good, opportunities this time. Freshman forward Melissa Han struck a dangerous free kick from near midfield with 18 minutes remaining to play, and Dupon took a through ball in the middle of the field and forced a diving save by Crusader keeper Kari Davidson with 6:30 left on the clock.

'Once we decided to play and once we started winning balls in the middle, it was a lot better,' Dupon said. 'We can play with anybody. We have as good a chance as anybody.'

Jesuit did its best to build its lead to two goals, getting a dangerous header from Katy Metcalf on a Davis-Roberti cross with 16 minutes to play, and finally, a shot off the crossbar by freshman midfielder Sarah Bridges with 3:45 remaining.

'We thought their defense was a little slow getting to the ball and we thought that that if we got a touch on it in the box, we could score,' Dripps said.

After the match, Skipper complimented the efforts of senior midfielder Lauren Wilkins ('She plays that defensive midfield position as well as anybody,' he said), junior defender Amanda Gasparich, freshman defender Kristin DeGrandmont and of Davis-Roberti.

'We're young, but we're good defensively,' Skipper said. 'We just don't have a big goal scorer.'

Westview, meanwhile, tried to offset the loss of Krogh (who missed the game while nursing a concussion suffered during her team's match against Beaverton a week earlier) with the efforts of freshman forward Kwynn Butts and junior defender Brooke Cole.

'Kwynn Butts played very well for us at the forward position. She did a nice job bringing pause to the game and allowing our midfield to move up the field,' Martin added. And 'Brooke Cole did and has done a great job sweeping. She is a tremendous leader in the back and certainly holds us together defensively.'