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Crusader seniors connect late for game-winner against Tualatin, Jesuit advances to 6A title game

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Sydney Collins scored the game-winning goal against Tualatin in the Class 6A playoffs.

In between the first and second overtimes of a Class 6A quarterfinal clash with Tualatin that was too close for comfort, Jesuit senior forward Emma Treasure walked over to Sydney Collins with an epiphany.

The long-time friends and soon to be college teammates have been through their fair share of wars together. Collins knows Treasure isn't the type that speaks false hope just for show. Treasure is as cut-and-dry as they come and doesn't fabricate how she feels. So, when Treasure predicted Collins was going to score the game-winning goal, she didn't know what to think.

After all, the future Golden Bear is an all-state center back defender, not a scorer by nature.

But, with the game still tied at 0-0 and just seven minutes left before penalty kicks, Treasure lobbed a pass from the right side of the pitch around the Timberwolves' goalie box about 15 yards away. On the other end of the offering was Collins, who had snuck down the field on the prior possession for a penalty kick and stayed on that end of the pitch before the ball cleared.

Collins climbed the proverbial ladder behind the mob of Tualatin and Jesuit players, got her black headband on the ball and bumped it high and remotely, away from the Timberwolf keeper into the right corner of the net for the goal and 1-0 lead.

Seven minutes later, Collins and the Crusader defense, which held Tualatin to just two shots in 100 minutes of work, clinched the 1-0 win on Saturday at Cronin Field to advance to the 6A semifinals against Lincoln on Tuesday. The Crusaders erupted in the second half of the semifinal match, scoring five unanswered goals to crush the Cardinals 6-1. The No. 1 in 6A and the No. 2 team in the USA Today rankings will face Sunset in the 6A state championship game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.

"I was hyped, I was so excited," Treasure said with a smile. "I knew that goal was coming...I don't know why... I just felt it."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit midfielder Ella Nelson tackles a Tualatin defender against Tualatin in the Class 6A playoffs.

On any set piece or pass from the corner, Jesuit sends runners to the back post every time. And when Tualatin's defense pushed up into the box, Collins stayed back with just a single defender in her way. Once Collins got her head on the ball, she worried it might float over the frame and out-of-bounds. But Collins put just enough oomph on the pass to loft it over the keeper and into the upper right corner.

"I was on my tippy toes just waiting for the ball to go in and then I just hugged all of my teammates," Collins said with a smile. "We worked really hard for this. We had a lot of shots and at the end of the day it was just really nice to get one in the back of the net."

"(The ball) was just out of reach for the keeper," Treasure added with a smile.

Jesuit dominated the quarterfinals with 13 shots, six of which were on frame, but had nothing to show for it after 93 minutes of action. Jesuit senior Sophia Braun blasted an attempt that hit the right side post and unfortunately rolled to the left post and bounced out. Let a match linger on into penalty kicks and anything can happen. You don't have to tell Collins and Treasure that, both of whom could only stand and stare as Sunset celebrated all over their home turf in the 6A semis last season after winning in PK's.

Collins' connection with her trusted partner, Treasure, ensured the Crusaders could avoid the post-match zaniness. Survive, advance, live to see another day.

"We have every team against us, so we just needed to stay calm, cool and collected," Treasure said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. We didn't think the results from their past games had really reflected them because they're a good team. We came out as hard as we could."

All of Jesuit's wins in the first three postseason games came either in the second half or overtime, creating an angst-riddled, tension-filled ambiance to play in. Moving forward, the Crusaders said they'd much rather play from ahead than descend into a tight deadlock.

"One of the first things we said after the game was 'Ok we're not doing this again this late,'" Collins said. "I think we played well, we just need to put a goal in earlier for less stress. But we can use this as momentum going into our next game."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit sophomore forward Callan Harrington goes after a loose ball against Tualatin in the Class 6A playoffs.

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