The Watchmen push regular season champ Life Christian to a 2-2 draw, but lose 3-1 in final tiebreaker for Special District 5 championship

HILLSBORO — Peaking at the right time, C.S. Lewis Academy entered the Special District 5 1A league championship game riding a six-game winning streak.

The Watchmen avenged an earlier loss in the season by besting City Christian in the semifinals and were hoping to pull off a similar feat against regular-season champion Life Christian, whose only loss on the season game against 4A Estacada.

Capping the season-ending crescendo in fitting fashion, C.S. Lewis put forth its best performance to date. The only thing missing, however, was the final result, as the Lions prevailed 3-1 in penalty kicks to break a 2-2 draw that lasted through regulation and two SETH GORDON - Feet first - Senior Sam Swan battles for a loose ball during C.S. Lewis Academy's loss to Life Christian in the Special District 5 championship game Friday night at Hillsboro Stadium. The Watchmen tied the regular-season champion Lions 2-2 through regulation and two overtime periods, but lost 3-1 on penalty kicks.

“It’s really tough to lose when it’s so close,” senior midfielder Joseph Brooks said. “It just kept looking better and better for us, so that made it really hard. We played great. We lost to them 4-1 last time and our team worked our butts off. I’m just really proud of everyone.”

Both teams had chances to score in the early going, but it was Life (12-1) that struck first. Working on the counter, the Lions sent a through ball up the middle that just slid by a sliding Watchmen defender on to the foot of Jerin Baeza, who fired low and hard across the goal mouth to beat goalie Cole Evans low and left.

Although Life controlled possession for the most part, C.S. Lewis regularly made runs up the field, which consequently opened the game up as the Lions often countered quickly themselves.

The Watchmen (8-5-1) got the break they were looking for, sending a bouncing ball into the box that deflected off a Life player for an own goal 6:01 into the second half.

It took the Lions just over four minutes to respond, as Joel Baeza danced his way into the box and coolly slotted it home to regain the lead.

Brothers Sam and Isaak Swan used some nifty play up the right side to set up the tying goal for C.S. Lewis. The eventual cross into the box took a couple deflections, sending the keeper out of position by the time it rolled to the feet of Katelyn Reimer, who slammed it home to knot the game 2-2 with 15:56 to play.

The Watchmen then successfully contained Joel Baeza through two 10-minute overtimes to set up the dramatic finish.

Shooting first, Isaak Swan pointed to the upper left corner, seemingly calling his shot, then swung hard in that direction but hit the ball off the right side of his foot to send low and towards the right corner. The goalie was fooled, diving, left, but the ball had too much spin and bounced harmlessly off the post.

Joel Baeza bested Evans to give Life a 1-0 lead after one round, but Sam Swan tied it on the next shot.

Jerin Baeza regained the lead for the Lions with a routine shot to end the second round.

Collin Raudsepp misfired on his attempt in round three, but Evans saved the ensuing attempt, diving low and left to keep the Watchmen within one goal.

In the fourth round, Ryan Brooks sent a hard shot toward the upper left corner, but Life goalie Nick Krig guessed correctly and got a hand on it to keep it out.

Zack Kenniston then sealed the deal on the back end of the fourth round, giving the Lions an insurmountable 3-1 lead with just one round left, setting off a jubilant on-field celebration.

The Watchmen were in good spirits after the game, recognizing their own strong performance and a historic season, as they progressed further in the Special District 5 tournament than they ever have before in any playoff format.

“I’m just really proud of us,” Joseph Brooks said. “We really came together as a team. Even though we lost, it was a great game to end on.”

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