Jesuit wins its second title in three years by beating Lincoln 3-0

HILLSBORO — There’s no such thing as a perfect team or a perfect game, but short of that, the Jesuit boys soccer team was definitely the right team in the right place on Saturday night.

The Metro League-champion Crusaders, facing Lincoln in the Class 6A state championship game at Hillsboro Stadium, made a run at perfect in the day’s cool, damp conditions, dominating possession, overwhelming the Cardinals in shots, and pushing those advantages to a 3-0 win that gave Jesuit its second state championship in three years and its Oregon-best 13th big-school crown.

by: MILES VANCE - ENDING ON TOP - Jesuit senior Brian DeGrandmont lifts the first-place trophy overhead while surrounded by teammates (from left) Joel Schierman, Shane Richards, Essam Nicola and Matt Nachreiner after the Crusaders beat Lincoln 3-0 in the Class 6A state title game on Saturday.

“It hasn’t all settled in yet, but I’m just ecstatic,” said Jesuit senior defender Matt Nachreiner, who was named Player of the Game for the Crusaders after assisting on two of his team’s goals and scoring the other. “I’m just on cloud nine right now.”

“It’s more than we asked for,” said junior midfielder Christo Michaelson, who scored his team’s first goal against the Cardinals. “We dreamed of it since day one, but when we got the win, I think it felt even a little bit better than we were expecting.”

“I’m just in utter disbelief and shock,”added Jesuit senior midfielder Brian DeGrandmont. “I’ve waited two years for this. We won two years ago, but this year, for the seniors, this is my year and I wasn’t going to let anything else happen. I wasn’t going to let them win.”

The win capped a season that saw Jesuit regain the Metro League title from 2011 league and state champ Westview, enter the playoffs as the third-ranked team in the state, then win five straight games in the second season by a combined score of 19-5 to end the 2012 campaign at 17-1-1. No. 5 Lincoln, the Special District 1 runner-up, ended its year at 12-2-4.

The Crusaders didn’t score until the final 10 minutes of the opening half, but set the tone right from the opening kick, challenging the Cardinals with their high-pressure defense and using their possession advantage to create repeated opportunities on offense.

Tyler Street notched his team’s first shot on goal on a free kick eight minutes into the contest, and Henry Rocker very nearly scored his team’s first goal just two minutes later when he took a pass from DeGrandmont and missed a hard shot just left from the top of the Lincoln penalty box.

Jesuit came close again — very close this time — with 18 minutes to go in the first half when Street sent a corner kick into the Cardinal box from the right side and senior defender Shane Richards missed just right.

But Lincoln’s good fortune came to an end with 10:19 remaining in the half when Nachreiner sent a low pass into the box from 30 yards out and Michaelson flicked it into the goal at the far post to make it 1-0.

Even more than the pressure and possession, that first goal seemed to convince everyone on the Jesuit side of the equation that this would be their day.

“We’re a high-pressure team so we knew that if we came out and worked hard right off the bat, we knew if we got the first goal we’d have a good chance of winning and that’s what we did,” Michaelson said.

“After the first goal, after Nachreiner’s assist, a low-driven ball to Christo, I just had a feeling,” DeGrandmont said. “I knew it. I knew we’d win.”

“I knew right off the first goal,” Rocker said. “When (Nachreiner) is ready to play, when he’s playing balls like that, we can’t be beat.”

Jesuit didn’t wait nearly so long to score again once it got to the second half, breaking through to make it 2-0 just 6:45 into the period. There, Street crossed the ball into the Lincoln box and Nachreiner found space between the Cardinal defenders to head it home at the right post.

Energized further by that second goal, the Crusaders kept the heat on, continued to dominate possession, then tacked on their third score with 23:12 remaining to play. Nachreiner started his team’s final scoring play with a long throw-in from the right side and Rocker finished it with a header past Lincoln keeper Sam Zasloff-Cohen for the final 3-0 margin.

“I didn’t think I was going to get one, but it’s always (Nachreiner) on the throw-in,” Rocker said. “I don’t know how many goals we’ve scored on his throw-ins, but it’s just incredible.”

Also incredible was the Crusaders’ team defense, which limited Lincoln to just two shots — neither on goal — in the first half and just eight overall while Jesuit cranked out 17 shots in the contest.

“It feels great,” said Jesuit junior keeper John Melito, who helped his team post its 11th shutout of the season. “It’s hard because I had so much pressure on me, but I had some of the best friends and best players in the country on my team so that helped me a lot back there.”

Melito mentioned Richards, Ulyl Acevedo-Chable, Nachreiner and Pierce Baldocchi for their assistance, adding “It makes my job easier having (them) back there — they’re world class.”

Jesuit coach Chris Thurley, who’s now won two state championships since taking over the Crusader program from Dave Nicholas in 2008, then emptied his bench to reward the other talented players that gave his squad depth like almost no other in the state.

“The fact that we put ‘em away well enough that we could get in all our guys — they’ve been working just as hard as we have all year — it was great to get them in,” Richards said. “We all play to the end as hard as we can.”

And then, finally, after the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Crusaders could really celebrate.

“We thought we were going to be here the whole season and we finally got it done,” Rocker said. “I’m just really excited. This team really deserves it.”

“They’re a great team,” Nachreiner said. “They played a hell of a game, but I just think we wanted it more.”

“When we’re on, we’re on,” Melito added, “and when we are, we’re impossible to beat.”

This year’s team will graduate eight seniors — Nachreiner, DeGrandmont, Joel Schierman, Sean Justus, Zach Caballero, Richards, Andy Buhler and Thomas Wise.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to

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