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Tooth and nail

Jesuit bests Southridge 3-1 in a Metro League contest marked by physical play and six yellow cards
by: MILES VANCE, READY – Jesuit senior midfielder Drew Smalley (left) and Southridge junior midfielder Jace Green prepare for a header on Monday night.

BEAVERTON - It wasn't a playoff game, but Monday's Metro League match between Southridge and Jesuit's boys soccer team had all the necessary ingredients.

Two skilled teams - both of them state semifinalists a year ago - playing for high stakes. Intense emotions (including six yellow cards) and big momentum shifts. In the end, though, it was Jesuit that held the upper hand, scoring twice in the second half to break a 1-1 tie and notch a 3-1 victory at Jesuit High School. The win, along with its 2-0 win over Westview Thursday in a rematch of last year's state championship, lifted Jesuit's league-leading record to 4-0-1 and 13 points and kept them one point ahead of Westview.

'The Metro League is the hardest league, I believe, and it's a great result for us,' said Jesuit senior forward Matt Van Houten, who scored twice Monday to boost his team-leading season total to 11. 'Southridge is a very good team. It's just good to get a win out of it.'

'We thought we played our best soccer of the year after they scored their first goal,' said Jesuit coach Dave Nicholas. 'And the other positive was that it was our first home win of the year.'

For Southridge, which tied Beaverton 1-1 last Thursday, Monday's loss dropped the Skyhawks to 1-2-2 and five points, good for fourth place at the midway point of the Metro League season.

'We knew it was going to be a tough match, but we thought we could win,' said Southridge junior forward Brennan Altringer, who scored his team's lone goal. 'We were expecting a good game.'

'The end result was 3-1 but the game was a lot closer than the score was,' said Southridge coach Jason Goodrich. 'But I think this is a good turning point for us. We've had our lumps and bruises already this year, but I think this was a good one to walk away from knowing 'Hey. At least we put it on the field.''

The two teams battled on even terms for most of Monday's first half, but it was the Crusaders who notched the only goal of the opening stanza. Jesuit senior midfielder Andy Wolverton started the scoring play on a free kick from 40 yards out. He sent the ball wide to the right of the Skyhawk goal where senior defender J.D. Penilton redirected the ball into the penalty box and Van Houten was there to knock it past Southridge keeper Andrew Bonifacio to the near post with 24 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the half.

The Skyhawks' best chance in the opening half came when junior forward Israel Vega made a long run up the right side with 18:30 left and sent a shot toward the Crusader goal, but Jesuit keeper Matt Finn was up to the challenge and Jesuit led 1-0 at the break.

That lead didn't last long once the second half started, though. Altringer got his team even 4:15 into the second frame when he collected a loose ball at the top of the Jesuit penalty box, then blasted a hard shot to the top right corner of the Crusader goal to knot the score at 1-1.

But Jesuit returned the favor five minutes later, pushing back ahead 2-1 when Van Houten headed home a free kick from Wolverton with 29:41 left in the game.

And there, at 2-1, is where the score stayed - through three Jesuit yellow cards and two for Southridge - until the Crusaders cashed in their final goal with 3:51 left to play. Charlie Morrow did the honors this time, collecting a rebound 23 yards out and hammering a shot that tipped off one Southridge defender on its way into the goal.

'We have to play every game like a state championship game because they play like that, but what's helped us is we just keep on going,' Van Houten said. 'We had that tie against Sunset and we just kept on going.'

Nicholas was just happy to get out with a win against a strong Southridge side.

'We'd always felt that Southridge was stronger than their results were showing' this year, Nicholas said. 'Southridge always plays with intensity.'

While obviously disappointed with the loss, the Skyhawks were proud of their effort and determined not to let this defeat define their season.

'If you're not going to win the league, you want to get a result and get to the playoffs, and that's our goal, to get to the playoffs,' Goodrich said.

'It was a little more like a rivalry' game, Altringer added. 'But this is probably the best game we've played.'

In upcoming games, Southridge hosts Sunset at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday) and plays at Aloha at 7 p.m. Monday. Jesuit hosts Beaverton at 7 p.m. tonight and plays at Sunset at 7:30 p.m. Monday.