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Jesuit wins ninth straight title

The Crusaders beat Metro rival Westview 2-0 to win the Metro League
by: MILES VANCE, EYES ON BALL — Westview’s Ryan Hill (front) and Jesuit’s Charlie Morrow vie for a header during the Crusaders’ 2-0 win over the Wildcats at Jesuit High School on Monday night.

BEAVERTON - For the Jesuit boys soccer team, there was no better way to wrap up the Metro League title.

The Crusaders took out Metro rival Westview 2-0 at Jesuit High School Monday night to clinch their ninth straight league title at 8-0-1 (10-0-3 overall) with just Monday's finale at Southridge remaining.

'It's always fun beating Westview,' said Jesuit senior sweeper J.D. Penilton, who helped his team shut out the Wildcats on Monday. 'It's fun beating everyone but especially Westview. Westview's the best.'

'It's always a battle. We've had some great games with Westview and this one was no different,' said Jesuit coach Dave Nicholas, whose team has amassed a 62-1-3 record during that nine-year span, its last loss coming to Southridge 1-0 on Oct. 12, 2000. Since then, the Crusaders have put together a 55-match unbeaten streak.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, fell to 6-3 in Metro play (9-4 overall) and maintained sole possession of second place with 18 points. Their final league match, against third-place Sunset (15 points), is set for 7:30 p.m. today (Thursday) at Westview High School. And with the playoffs looming close behind that, the Wildcats are just trying to reach their peak for the biggest matches of the season.

'Right now we're focusing on the playoffs, trying to get our team working together, trying to get it flowing,' said Westview senior forward B.J. Jenson. 'It's just getting ready for the playoffs.'

For their part, the Crusaders looked pretty close to playoff ready on Monday night. They broke into the scoring column 18 minutes into the match when senior forward Matt Van Houten won the ball in the left corner of the Wildcat penalty box, then crossed the ball to senior midfielder Tony Jaeger at the far post. Jaeger was there to head it home solidly for a 1-0 lead the Crusaders would not relinquish.

'We've been passing well,' Jaeger explained. 'We've been holding the ball and possession's been our thing.'

Jesuit would not score again until the second half, but there were plenty of fireworks in between. Westview got a couple shots from Jenson, and the Crusaders got a great chance from Peter Foster on a Jaeger cross with 15 minutes left in the half, but Wildcat keeper Matt Dunham was there to make the stop at the right post.

The Wildcats, though held scoreless, turned up the pressure most of the way in the second half. They got a strong header from Zach Calvert nine minutes into the second half, a Jenson shot that missed wide right off a Colin Barich cross two minutes later, and a Sean Pullin shot off the crossbar with 11 minutes remaining.

'We just said 'Who cares? We have nothing to lose,' so we played our hardest,' Jenson said. 'We just got the ball moving a lot more the second half. We just played as a team. We were getting the drops going. We put more pressure on them.'

Likewise, Jesuit had additional chances before they notched their second goal, notably a Foster volley stopped by Dunham 10 minutes into the half. Van Houten notched the insurance goal 15 minutes later when he collected a loose ball 10 yards out of goal in the Westview penalty box and flicked it to the left post to score.

'I think we just played our game,' Penilton said. 'When we play as we have and we play our game, nobody's going to beat us. We can only beat ourselves. That's the only thing that can happen.'

'I just said to (Westview coach Jim Lekas) 'That was not a 2-0 game. It could have gone 1-0 either way,'' Nicholas said. 'I'm very pleased with them. It was a good performance.'

The Crusaders close the regular season at home against Southridge at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Westview ends its season at Sunset at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday)