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Crusaders crush McMinnville and Sheldon in the first two rounds of postseason play

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Jesuit girls soccer team is cruising through the Class 6A playoffs after shutting out Sheldon and McMinnville.

Don't take the Jesuit girls soccer team for granted.

It's a sentiment that's been uttered before but bears repeating, nonetheless.

The two-time Class 6A defending champs, who have enjoyed splendorous season after season under head coach Steve Fennah's rule over the past two decades, are in a sort of golden era. After producing perhaps the greatest team in state history a season ago, the encore has come close to the prototype.

The Crusaders are mangling teams once again, beating their first two postseason opponents by a combined 16-0. Jesuit swept the floor with Sheldon with four goals in the first nine minutes en route to a 7-0 win on Tuesday at Cronin Field. The top seed in the 6A bracket will host Barlow on Saturday at a time to be determined. Get out and see senior stars such as Callan Harrington, Mary Votava and Jaden McClellan before they graduate and go to the high major Division One level. They're already collegiate players who just so happen to have a few more high school games left. Or check out the next-up standouts like Maddie Koleno and Alison Sasaki who are vital parts of the Crusader machine and will soon have the stage to themselves.

Jesuit is a joy to watch, a team that shares the ball and doesn't hog the spotlight. In the first half against Sheldon, Sasaki sent a seeing-eye pass through a slight crack in the Irish defense to speeding Harrington who hammered in Jesuit's third goal of the match. Later, Harrington received a pass around the 30-yard line, spun to her right, raced past two Irish midfielders, left another pair of Sheldon defenders in her wake with a dead sprint and clocked a right-footed snipe to the left corner of the net to go up 4-0 just nine minutes into the postseason square off.

On a separate possession, the ball moved inside the box to Harrington in the middle, then back out to the perimeter to senior Mia Gish who stepped into a bullet shot that soared over the Irish keeper's head into the top shelf of the net. Koleno scored twice and passed the ball exquisitely, as did Sasaki who chipped in on defense as well. Votava made a save of a free kick, slapping down the straightaway shot with two hands.

The Crusaders know Harrington is the breadwinner, but everybody touches the ball and has a say in the offense. And the ways they find Harrington and feed her are next level. They can find the future University of Washington forward on the run, put the ball out in space and let her go get it or play two-man games to fool the defense.

Barlow is the eighth seed in the 6A bracket. The Bruins come into the match with a 14-0-2 record and an undefeated mark in the Mt. Hood Conference.

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