Tualatin beats Jesuit 2-0 to earn a trip to the Class 6A state championship

by: DAN BROOD - TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP -- Tualatin soph'more Kyla Hackelman hugs sophomore teammate Corinne Togiai (17) following the Wolves' 2-0 win over Jesuit in Tuesday's semifinal match. BEAVERTON — Back on Sept. 16, moments after the Tualatin High School girls soccer team fell 3-0 to Jesuit in an early-season non-league match, the Timberwolves were already looking forward to a rematch with the Crusaders.

It would be a rematch, Tualatin insisted, that would have a different outcome.

“See you in the playoffs,” Tualatin junior defender Natalie Shen said good-naturedly that night as she looked toward the Crusaders after the match. “It’s always intense when we play Jesuit. Oh yeah, this is motivation for us. We’ll kick their butts next time.”

Well, next time turned out to be Tuesday night. And, while the Timberwolves may, or may not, have “kicked their butts,” they did get an intense, desired win in their rematch with Jesuit — and a trip to the Class 6A state championship game to go with it.

The Timberwolves earned a spot in the state title tilt by powering their way to a 2-0 victory over the previously-unbeaten Crusaders in a state playoff semifinal game played Tuesday at Jesuit High School.

“We said we’d see them again and we’d win next time, and we did it,” Shen said after Tuesday’s semifinal contest. “This time, we took care of business. It feels good.”

“We knew we had more left in us,” said Tualatin senior Jill Farley, who had a goal and an assist in the semifinal victory. “We’ve learned a lot and we put things together when the time is right.”

With the setback, Metro League champion Jesuit, which hadn’t surrendered a finished goal all season prior to Tuesday’s match, ended its season with a final overall mark of DAN BROOD - TIMBERWOLF TOUGH -- Tualatin senior Jill Farley (right) looks to get the ball away from Jesuit senior Dani Brown.

Tualatin, the Pacific Conference runner-up, improved to 13-2-3 on the season with the victory. The Wolves also advance to meet Sunset in the Class 6A state championship match, which will be held Saturday, starting at 6 p.m., at Hillsboro Stadium.

“This is huge,” Tualatin senior Alyssa Durdel said. “This is a huge step for us.”

“This means the world to us,” said Tualatin junior Kyla Hackelman, who scored the second goal for the Wolves in the semifinal victory. “I’m so happy.”

Tualatin should have plenty of momentum on its side going into Saturday’s state title tilt following its win over Jesuit on Tuesday.

“The girls did it,” Tualatin coach Kale’ Dwight said. “They worked so hard for it and they deserve it.”

“This was phenomenal,” Tualatin junior goalkeeper Emily Leonard said. “We played to our potential. This was great, especially since we lost 3-0 to them earlier.”

Early on in Tuesday’s match, both teams’ defenses seemed to take charge.

For the Wolves, Leonard made a pair of early key plays. First, she dove to block an open shot by Jesuit junior Madison Kincaid with 29 minutes and 47 seconds remaining to play in the first half. Just over a minute later, Leonard ran out to knock the ball away from Jesuit junior Melisande Gavin, who was making a run at the Tualatin goal.

The Tualatin defense — including Shen, junior Ariana Pumpelly, Farley and Durdel, among others — allowed Jesuit only three shots on goal in the first half.

The Tualatin offense also had some difficulties in the first 40 minutes. The Wolves also had just three shots on goal in the first half, two by Farley and one by junior Megan Landmark, but all three of those attempts were grabbed by Jesuit junior goalkeeper Lindsay LaMont, keeping the teams locked up in a scoreless tie at break.

“We got off to a slow start,” Dwight said. “I think the frustration got to our girls and they said ‘let’s do it.’”

And, just a little more than three minutes into the second half, the Timberwolves did it. In fact, they did something no other team has done against the Crusaders all season — score.

by: DAN BROOD - I GOT IT -- Tualatin sophomore goalkeeper Emily Leonard, with senior Jill Farley to her left, pulls down the ball after making a key save on a free kick attempt late in Tuesday's state playoff semifinal contest. Tualatin took a 1-0 lead when Farley headed in a shot from six yards away — completing a wild corner-kick play — coming with 36:58 left in the match.

“That was one of the biggest things for us,” Farley said of being able to score on the Crusaders. “We’ve been focusing on what we need to do on corner kicks.”

Tualatin senior Lauren Helmreich got the scoring play started with a corner kick from the right side. She got the ball to freshman Jordan Anderson, who knocked it back to Helmreich. The senior then booted the ball high in the air toward the center off the field in front of the Jesuit goal. Sophomore Maura Dunigan then knocked the ball to Farley, who headed a shot just over the outstretched fingers of LaMont and into the Crusader goal.

“I knew it was going in,” Farley said with a smile. “That was the most exciting feeling.”

Jesuit, facing a deficit for the very first time all season, looked to turn up the intensity following the Timberwolf goal.

The Crusaders came close to getting an equalizer when a spin-around shot by Jesuit senior Jessica Bramlett, from 13 yards out, clanked hard off the crossbar of the Tualatin goal with with 30:29 remaining.

The Tualatin defense locked down after that. Leonard made saves on shots on goal by Jesuit freshman Emma Graham and senior Ari Hudson. Timberwolf senior Madison Campbell then headed away a free kick shot by Hudson with 7:45 remaining.

Then, with 3:43 left to play, Jesuit had what looked to be its best opportunity when junior Aliyah Chance took a free-kick shot on goal from 28 yards out. But Leonard, calmly leaping up, grabbed the ball to keep the 1-0 lead intact.

“I was just thinking we need to keep them from scoring so we could win,” Leonard said. “(Making the save) was a big weight off my shoulders.”

by: DAN BROOD - YELLS OF JOY -- The Tualatin High School girls soccer team celebrates following its state playoff semifinal win at Jesuit on Tuesday.A minute and a half later, Tualatin added the exclamation mark to its win.

Farley hit a long free kick into the box. Hackelman, getting under the ball, headed it into the Jesuit goal from 12 yards away on the left side, giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead with 2:15 left to play in the match.

“That felt really nice,” Hackelman said of just the second goal Jesuit allowed all season. “Jill kicked it in, and I just got a head on it.”

Soon after Hackelman’s goal, the Wolves were celebrating after earning their second trip to the Class 6A state championship game in the past three seasons.

“It all came together today,” Hackelman said.

“We really picked up the energy in the second half,” Farley said. “We’re going to state.”

“We kept our heads high and put the past behind us,” Durdel said. “We’re one big family. This is the best feeling ever.”

“I think we just wanted it a little more,” Shen said. “We never give up.”

Jesuit had eight shots on goal and seven corner kicks in Tuesday’s semifinal contest. Tualatin had six shots on goal and four corner kicks.

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