Jesuit caps dominant boys lacrosse season with state title
The Jesuit boys lacrosse team has dominated the competition throughout the spring season, and it proved no different during Saturday's 17-9 win over Lakeridge in the Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state championship game at Randall Stadium on the campus of Wilsonville High.
The Pacers managed to put up some resistance in the early going with goalkeeper Andrew Nyhus coming up with several saves to deny Jesuit on its opening possession in the June 4 matchup.
"We knew that Jesuit is a team that once they get hot, they stay hot, so keeping them out of the net early helped," Nyhus said.
But the Crusaders would not be silenced for long.
Porter Malkiel and Bennett Smith scored seconds apart for a 2-0 lead that the team would never relinquish.
Lakeridge got on the scoreboard when Ethan Bernhardt delivered a long-range sidewinder shot. The Pacers had a chance to even the score after Bernhardt scooped up a loose ball in the midfield and made a long run down the left side only to see his low shot squirt wide of the far post.
It proved to be the Pacers' only chance to tie the game.
Jesuit's Matt Rincon tracked down the loose ball behind the Crusaders' net and ran the length of the field, beating the goalie from close range. Smith added a goal from the perimeter and in less time than it takes to play Final Jeopardy, the Crusaders had expanded their lead to 4-1.
"Their goalie (Nyhus) is good and deserves our respect," Jesuit coach Bill Gleason said. "We started adding deception to our shots, and more and more shots started going in."
The margin would grow to 6-1 before Lakeridge beat the clock at the end of the first quarter.
With less than 10 seconds to go, the Pacers found themselves behind the goal when they sent a flurry of passes around the perimeter. It ended with Tyler Williams looping a long pass across the field to Bernhardt, who whipped a shot into the net with 0.2 seconds on the clock.
The Pacers would get no closer the rest of the way.
Rincon swiped a steal early in the second quarter, and two long passes later teammate Jack Duncan-Bloom was on the doorstep for an easy finish.
A minute later, Christian Buck fired a pass into a crowd at the front of the goal where teammate Ben Wimmer hauled it in and redirected the ball into the net while falling to the turf.
"We came in with the idea that this was just another game, and we wanted to play freely and have fun," Wimmer said. "We kept playing fast — we played our way."
Wimmer would notch two more goals before the half, and Duncan-Bloom pounced on a loose ball in front of the net and beat the buzzer to put Jesuit in charge 11-3 at the intermission.
"The ball was on the ground, and I knew I had to move," Duncan-Bloom said. "I hit it square on and it hit the goalie's water bottle in the net."
"It was nice to go into halftime with the lead, but we weren't going to turn it off — we weren't going to underestimate anybody," Gleason said. "We learned a lot after losing to them in the title game last year — it's been prepare, prepare, prepare since then."
The Crusaders extended to their biggest lead at 14-3 early in the third quarter when Rincon took a ball off the bounce and raced 40 yards in a straight line to the goal for an easy put-away. Smith and Duncan-Bloom added power-play goals.
"That was our game plan to play fast, and once that started, we just kept rolling," Smith said. "Scoring when you are a man up always helps build that momentum."
Lakeridge responded with three consecutive goals — its longest run of the night. Bernhardt scored twice and assisted on another during the spurt. He finished with a game-high six goals.
"The first quarter didn't go the way we wanted, so we flushed that and started playing for fun and that got us playing better," Bernhardt said. "None of my goals stand out. My favorite part was being able to assist my buddy Preston (Stewart)."
The Crusaders slowed the pace in the fourth quarter, peeling more than a minute off the clock on each of their first two possessions. Duncan-Bloom set up a play behind the net, sending the ball to Smith, who moved it across to Wimmer for a goal from 12 yards out and a 16-7 lead with 7:10 to play.
"They made a bit of a comeback on us, but we were sharing the ball really well, keeping it moving, and that opened up chances," Duncan-Bloom said.
Wimmer, Duncan-Bloom and Smith finished with four goals apiece, while Malkiel had three.
The Crusaders finished the season with a 22-1 record — their only loss coming by one goal during a spring break tournament in California. Jesuit outscored their previous playoff opponents by a total of 63 goals.
"I'm very proud of the guys. They really bought into the team concept, and that is why we are here," Gleason said.
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