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The Crusaders advance to the state final and will face West Linn Nov. 12, at Hillsboro Stadium.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Mariane Dunne battles Tualatin's Avery Porter during the Crusaders' state semifinal game with the Timberwolves Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.It took 95 minutes, but in the end Jesuit's lone goal was all they needed to defeat Tualatin 1-0 in their state semifinal game Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School.

The Crusaders' game-winner came off the foot of Abigail Cox in the second of two overtime periods, but while the junior's deciding score ultimately sent Jesuit to this weekend's state final, it was the Crusaders' defense that laid the foundation of what amounted to a winning effort.

"As much as I think the story will be about the goal," Jesuit head coach Steve Fennah said, "I thought defensively we were very, very good."

Cox agreed, sighting the talent in the back end, along with the role that that talent played in what was ultimately a great team win.

"We have some top-tier players back there," Cox said. "We all work really hard and we got the result today."

It certainly wasn't easy however, because for more than 90 minutes the Crusaders could mostly only muster low percentage shots against a Tualatin defense that kept a dangerous Jesuit offense at bay. Fennah wasn't about to put the Crusaders' lack of offensive productivity on his squad, but rather pointed to a Timberwolves defense that was simply playing at a very high level.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Tualatin's MacKenzie Mathis dribbles the ball during the Timberwolves' state semifinal game with Jesuit Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School."I just think they're very good defensively," the Jesuit coach said. "They did sit back a little bit more certainly in the first half and tried to hit us on the break, but chances were few and far between. We know how talented and well-coached they are."

Tualatin's chances were even fewer and at times they appeared satisfied with playing more back and guarding against a Jesuit goal, but Timberwolves head coach Kale' Wright would have none of such an assertion, saying adamantly that their goal was to go at the top-ranked Crusaders.

"Our goal was to attack and get goals," Wright said, "but they were hunkered in the back."

Wright credited the Crusaders and was gracious in defeat, but added that the loss to No. 1-seeded Jesuit wouldn't take from what was by any metric a highly successful Timberwolves 2022 campaign.

"It was an incredible season," Wright said. "Making it to the semifinals and pushing Jesuit 15 minutes into overtime to get their only goal is incredible. Our league is so strong, with three of the four semifinalists coming out of our league, so I couldn't be more proud of the girls and the season they had."

Fennah was and continues to be proud of his girls as well. Despite key senior contributors like Eva Grunkemeier and Audrey Kent, the Crusaders get vital contributions from more than a handful of freshmen and sophomore difference-makers. The Jesuit coach spoke to the value of that "youth movement," but equally pointed to the value of experience they're continuing to build.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit and Tualatin players batter for the ball during their state semifinal game Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at Jesuit High School."Even though we're young, our senior captains have done a great job of leadership," Fennah said. "There's an enthusiasm about youth because there's no fear, but there is a factor that experience counts a little bit as well."

Yet, be it by way of their youth or their veteran leadership, Cox said any success they've had or will have going forward will come one way—together.

"We have trust in each other and know that we have to fight for each other," Cox said. "It just comes down to us being one big family and understanding that we've had some stressful games, but we've persevered."

Jesuit's state championship game with West Linn is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Hillsboro Stadium.


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