Style points don’t count this late in the season.

In November, it doesn’t matter if a team wins by one goal or five. Jaw-dropping highlights and crowning moments during the regular season are nice, but really, it’s all for show.

At the end of the day, in the 6A boys’ soccer playoffs, it’s about grinding and finding a way to win.

On Tuesday in the 6A state semifinals, the heavily favored Jesuit Crusaders were elbowed, shoved, poked, prodded and held scoreless for a half against West Linn despite getting off 14 shots.

Yet, like the true experienced team they are, Jesuit toiled. The Crusaders churned out two goals from Chris Chertude and Christo Michelson off frenzied corner kicks that gave them just enough cushion to grab a 2-0 win over the Lions, and send themselves to the 6A state championship game against Central Catholic on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Survive and advance. The Crusaders learned the real meaning of the expression against a menacing Lion team bent on landing a stunning blow on the defending state champs.

“It’s a one-game season once you get into the playoffs, so if you lose, you’re done,” said senior Charlie Chimento, who triggered both goals with exemplary corner kicks. “We really didn’t want that, so we were able to come out and work hard. We were able to play that physical aggressive game, and because of that, we came out with a couple goals.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Henry Rocker tries to chip a ball past West Linns goalie in the second half of the Crusaders win.

With the amount of pressure Jesuit pulverized on West Linn, it felt like it was just a matter of when, not if the dam was going to bust open and submerge the Lions. Chertude said the game opened up in the second half, and the seasoned Crusaders were able to play to feet and try to get goals. West Linn was unsympathetic when it came down to taking Jesuit down with tough tackles, but that didn’t prevent Jesuit from ceasing its offensive attack. Jesuit quadrupled West Linn’s amount of shots on goal, 28-7.

“We’ve done this hundreds of times, we know the goal is coming,” said Chertude. “We understand if we put the effort in, regardless of how the game is going, that we’ll end up nicking one in if we just continue to work. It’s an 80-minute game, so we just tried to maintain our focus and tried to finish the game out strong.”

Chimento made a swirling, curving corner kick to the far post, where Chertude and his 6-foot-3 frame were sitting tight. As the tallest player on the pitch, Chertude headed the pass at the height of his jump into the chest of a Lion defender. The ball had enough force that it caromed off the West Linn player and dribbled into the goal for the 1-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the second half.

“I’m always looking for any type of ball I can win on those corners,” said Chertude. “Charlie knows if he can find me, I’ll try and win everything. Usually, I’m able to win those, and it just felt great. I felt that goal was coming at some point.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior forward Christo Michaelson heads a ball towards the goal in the second half of the Crusaders 2-0 state semifinal win over West Linn.

Chimento’s second corner kick clanged around the box before Michaelson got his right foot on the ball, and drilled home both the insurance goal Jesuit craved, and the knife in the Lions’ belly with 10:15 left in the second half.

“I’m just focused on getting the ball in the box, and my team does it from there,” said Chimento. “I’m happy we could put those in. It was getting late in the second half, and we didn’t have much time. We really wanted to put it in, and because of that passion, we scored two.”

Against the top-ranked Rams who sport one of the best defenses in the state, the Crusaders will attempt to win their third state championship in four seasons.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit forward Antonio Porreco chips a ball deep inside West Linn territory in the first half.

“We understand what a state final means,” said Chertude. “We have a veteran team. We know what it takes to win. We just have to continue to work hard as a team, continue to put in the 100 percent effort for all 80 minutes of the game, and see if we can get that win.”

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