Crusaders girls clinch 1st
Jesuit edges Westview 1-0 in another hard-fought Metro League contest
ROCK CREEK - Jesuit girls soccer coach Ken Skipper didn't know what to expect from his team of talented youngsters in 2006.
What he got was a Metro League championship.
The Crusaders clinched the title Monday night, winning the way they have all season - with a stout defense built around their lone senior. Jesuit scored 24 minutes into its game against Westview, then put the clamps on to preserve its ninth shutout of the season for a 1-0 victory at Westview High School.
Jesuit, which consists of nine freshmen, has allowed just four goals in a 7-0-6 season and only two while building a 6-0-3 league mark.
'I don't think anyone expected us to do this,' Jesuit senior midfielder Lauren Wilkins said. 'We had some doubts ourselves. It took us a little bit to gel. But every time we came out to play or practice, we were pressuring each other and getting feisty.'
That carried into the games, including Monday's title-clinching victory over the Wildcats.
The Crusaders notched the game's only goal with 16 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. Junior forward Katy Metcalf made a nice turn in the far left corner to find the angle for a high-arching cross inside. The ball cleared a group of defenders and found sophomore forward Kate Beaudoin in the middle of the field near the top edge of the 8-yard box for a one-timer into the upper netting and 1-0 lead.
'I made a quick turn and figured she would be in the middle,' Metcalf said. 'It wasn't the easiest ball, but she did a great job finishing.'
'I thought it was going to pass me,' Beaudoin said. 'I just got in front of them and stuck my foot up.'
Jesuit managed to get a foot on many of the free balls throughout the night, consistently thwarting any Westview attacks with boots out the sideline.
'That's what we do rather than play it into the middle,' Wilkins said. 'That is the safest thing for us to do.'
Wilkins was at the center of the strategy, consistently using her size and athleticism to turn back strikes by the Wildcats.
'They are an aggressive team,' Westview junior forward Jenna Krogh said. 'If you get the ball with your back to the goal, they make it hard to turn. They work together well.'
The collective team effort was an integral part of the Crusaders' success throughout the season. At the head of that was the leadership of Wilkins, the team's only senior, and the determined improvement of the youngsters around her.
'Our senior and two or three juniors really set the tone early for the young kids,' Skipper said. 'They have trained seriously and gotten better every game out. For those kids with little experience to step up to that, I'm pretty impressed.'
And they did so by clinching the title against Westview, a team many coaches dubbed the preseason favorite. The Wildcats fell into a tie with Southridge for third in the league at 4-4-1, but it wasn't for lack of effort, especially in the second half.
Westview tried to use long balls to break Jesuit's defense in the first half with little result, managing just two shots and none after the game's 11th minute. Jesuit took control in the final 25 minutes with a patient possession game to put four shots on goal, including Beaudoin's eventual game-winner, which did more than give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
'When we score it brings up our play and gives us confidence,' Metcalf said. 'Finishing was the last thing to come (this season). Our hard work paid off.'
The Wildcats used a frantic pace to apply pressure throughout the entire second half, but failed to find a chink in the Crusaders' armor.
With 17 minutes left, sophomore midfielder Mo Fitzgerald sliced her way down the right side and sent a cross into junior forward Julie Rilling, but Jesuit goalkeeper Kari Davidson was there to intercept the pass.
Eight minutes later, Fitzgerald blocked a hard boot near midfield, controlled the ball and raced down the right sideline alone but her cross went over the head of Krogh.
Westview's last chance came with less than two minutes remaining. Senior midfielder Katie Brown passed into the middle where junior midfielder Olivia Dupon got a head on the ball with her back to the goal. Davidson grabbed the bouncer for her final save to preserve the shutout.
'We got behind and had to attack,' Krogh said. 'It would've helped if we came out aggressive like that instead of after they scored.'
Westview junior goalkeeper Erin Bochnak did all she could to give the Wildcats a chance with 10 saves, including one on a shot from five yards out in the 24th minute of the second half. Jesuit's Sarah Bridges dribbled in close and fired a shot that Bochnak deflected over the cross bar.
Bochnak also corralled Bridges' hard shot from 20 yards out late in the first half, knocking it to the ground with her palms then covering up.
'They really pressured us most of the game,' Skipper said. 'They played a great game against us. We defended well and stuck in one of the few opportunities we got.'