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The Glads advance to the semis with a school-record-tying 14th shutout over their league rivals

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Gladstone senior forward Amber Jensen (center) puts the pressure on Molalla goalie Kristina Morris (left) and junior defender Emily Bever (4) in Saturday nights Class 4A quarterfinal game at Gladstone. Jensen turned two hat tricks in playoff games last week and heading into this weeks semifinals she was within a goal of becoming only the fifth girl in Oregon high school girls soccer to have scored 100 goals in her high school career.The defending state champion Gladstone Gladiators were at the top of their game last week, as they advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 Class 6A high school girls soccer playoffs with shutouts of 17th-ranked Cottage Grove (6-0) and sixth-ranked Molalla (3-0).

It was a big week for Gladstone senior leader Amber Jensen, who turned two hat tricks, scoring five goals in the rout of Cottage Grove and all three goals in the shutout of Gladstone’s league rival, Molalla.

“Amber’s been in a zone,” said Gladstone coach Steve Thomas. “She had 12 shots, half our shots [against Cottage Grove]. She doesn’t normally do that. Amber’s playing at a very high level.”

Jensen’s third goal against the Indians was the 99th goal of her high school career.

“I’ve been working [to reach 100 goals] all four years,” said Jensen, who also has 50 career assists. “So it’s kind of a big deal for me. It would mean a lot [to score 100 goals].”

“If Amber gets that 100th goal, she’ll be only the fifth girl in Oregon high school soccer history to have scored 100 career goals,” Thomas said. “[Former Hillsboro star] Tiffeny Milbrett has the state record, with 131.

“Jesuit’s Laura Schott scored 116, Tualatin’s Anna-Marie Popma had 100, and Scappoose senior Ariel Viera has over 100 goals.”

Jensen scored goals at the 23rd, 42nd and 73rd minutes of the Molalla game. The first was set up by teammates Victoria Finley and Cheyenne Stubblefield. Finley crossed the ball in, Stubblefield touched the ball back to Jensen, and Jensen dribbled through two defenders to the end-line, back-heeled the ball, pivoted and left-footed the ball, beating Molalla keeper Kristina Morris down low.

Early in the second half, Kelsey Hathaway stole the ball from a defender and crossed the ball in from the wing to Jensen, who faked out a defender, turned and fired on-frame from just 15 yards out.

Hathaway also assisted on the final tally, crossing the ball in from the wing to Jensen, who made a run and powered the ball home from close range, just as a defender was attempting a challenge.

Jensen had three goals in the first half of the Cottage Grove game, scoring the first just nine seconds into the contest, stealing the kickoff and beating three defenders and the keeper before pounding the ball home.

Jensen also assisted Hathaway on the Gladiators’ fourth goal against Cottage Grove.

Although Jensen did all of the scoring, Saturday’s state playoff win over the Indians was a team effort. Much of the game was played at Molalla’s end of the field, as the Gladiators dominated the possession. Gladstone had a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks, a 20-3 advantage in shots, and a 13-2 advantage in shots on-frame.

The Gladiators so dominated the play that Gladstone sophomore goalkeeper Molly Webster touched the ball only once in the second half, and she had to make only two saves in the game.

“We were first to the ball and we didn’t let them win it,” Gladstone senior captain Taylor Plunkett said. “And we played as a team.”

“The key was definitely getting to the ball first,” Gladstone senior captain Madi Cronin said. “They set up a lot of their goals off of Kristina Morris’ drop kicks and goal kicks. We stepped in front and won those kicks and [Molalla star forward] Claire Thomas didn’t have a chance to get the ball.”

Saturday’s win was the eleventh in a row for Gladstone. It was the fourteenth shutout of the season, tying Gladstone’s season record for most shutouts in a season. The Gladiators have outscored their first 16 opponents this season 67-2, for the best goals-against average in the state this fall.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know we have tied our school record in shutouts,” Plunkett said.

“It feels really good, because we lost five really good starters from last year,” Cronin said. “I don’t think anyone thought at the beginning of the season that we’d come this far.

“To prove we’re just as good, if not better than last year, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

Cronin added, “[This game with Molalla] is the closest we’ve come this year to putting a complete game together. We had a few lapses in not marking up on throw-ins, but this is the closest we’ve come to playing a full 80 minutes.”

Molalla senior co-captain Courtney Miller said of the loss to Gladstone: “We have this mental thing with Gladstone, that Gladstone’s always really good. We just couldn’t get past it and get that mental block out of our heads.”

With Saturday’s second-round state playoff win, the third-ranked Gladiators improved to 14-1-1 on the season, and earned a Nov. 13 rematch with second-ranked Scappoose (15-1-0) in the Class 4A semifinals.

The Scappoose Indians dealt the Gladiators their only loss of the season in a Sept. 11 match at Scappoose, winning 1-0.

“I think we can beat them this time, because we know how they play,” Jensen said. “We’ll definitely be ready to play on Tuesday (Nov. 13).”

Thomas said he’d heard that Scappoose’s coach planned to take his star forward, Ariel Viera, and put her on defense, man-marking Jensen.

“Ariel man-marked Amber in the U-18 club championship,” Thomas said. “Scappoose has some other good players besides Ariel and they have a lot of skill, but I think we can take them.”

The Scappoose Indians had their hands full on Saturday, when they had to go to seven rounds of penalty kicks in overtime to get by La Salle, 2-1.

Heading into Tuesday’s game with Gladstone, the Indians were riding a 12-game win string, their only loss in a Sept. 20 preseason game with 2011 Class 3A/2A/1A state champion Oregon Episcopal.

The winner of Tuesday’s clash between the Gladiators and Scappoose will play the winner of a Nov. 13 semifinal between Philomath and Mazama Saturday at Liberty High School for the 2012 Class 4A state title.

Gladstone lost to Mazama in the semifinals two years ago, and the Gladiators beat Philomath in the semifinals last fall.

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