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The Crusaders defeat Gresham 6-1 and will face Westview in the state final Nov. 12.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Drew Pedersen and Gresham's Ethan Zavala battle for a ball during the two teams' state semifinal game Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.It's never easy in the state semifinals, but the Jesuit boys made it look that way in a 6-1 win over Gresham Tuesday evening, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.

The Crusaders got two goals from junior midfielder Nathan Peters and one apiece from Aarya Saxena, Omar Barajas, Noah Hayes and senior Drew Pedersen, five of which came in the second half.

Head coach Geoff Skipper was all smiles after the game and spoke to the benefit of having so many guys capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Super proud of this team, against tough competition," the Jesuit coach said. "Getting all those guys scoring is huge for us. We've got Drew who's scored a lot of goals for us this year, but it's nice to know that a team can't just shut one guy down, and that we've got other guys that have prove to be able to score."

Peters was happy to be one of those guys who proved himself on this night, but also pointed to Pedersen's importance to the team both against Gresham and throughout the season.

The senior standout—Pedersen—is nursing a leg injury and was limited in the Crusaders' quarterfinal win over Central Catholic. Peters said his absence was and is always noticeable.

"It makes such a big difference when he's not here," Peters said. "He gives so much drive to our attack."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Gresham senior Luis Ayona dribbles the ball during the Gophers' state semifinal with Jesuit Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.Peters got the scoring started with a goal in the 16th minute, but little occurred afterwards as the two teams went to halftime with score 1-0 Jesuit. It didn't take long however for the Crusaders to add to the lead in the second half when Saxena doubled the home team's lead in the 41st minute. From there it was all Jesuit, all the time, as the top-ranked Crusaders scored three more times in the next 14 minutes.

Gresham got on the board in the 60th minute when Luis Ayona put one in the back of the net, but watched as Jesuit responded with their sixth and final goal of the night when Hayes scored on a touch off of a long ball into the box.

Gophers head coach Rex Moffitt said afterwards that the loss was disappointing, but also wouldn't tarnish what was by any measure a very successful Gresham season.

"I think we started off a little slow and I think that had to do with nerves, but I couldn't be more proud of this team," Moffitt said. "This was a monumental season for our school."

The coach also said the support of what was a vocal and raucous Gresham crowd spoke to the community's feelings about the Gophers team and what they were able to accomplish this season.

"We're trying to put ourselves on the map, and that's harder to do these days," Moffitt said. "But we're proud of where we're from and proud of our situation. These boys are going to have a bright future and these people here tonight wanted to root for them."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit senior Noah Hayes fights off a Gresham defender during the Crusaders' state semifinal game with the Gophers Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.Moffitt added that while hurting in the moment, he's confident that in time his players will be able to look fondly on what they were able to accomplish over the course of the year.

"It will sink in later," he said. "It's pretty devastating at this point, and I get that because I'm a competitor, but we won a conference title, had six to 10 guys make all-league in some fashion, and made it to the semifinals, they should be proud and I think they will be down the road."

For Jesuit however the state final awaits, and that's something Peters is happy about—for a number of reasons.

"It's amazing," the Crusaders senior said. "We've done so much work and it's finally paying off. I feel really happy to honor the seniors."

Jesuit will face Westview—who defeated Aloha 2-1 in overtime of the other semifinal—in the boys state final game scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Hillsboro Stadium.

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