Jesuit uses speed, skill to take down Clackamas in 6A final rematch
Clackamas High School's girls soccer team had a heckuva time trying to contain Jesuit's Callan Harrington on Thursday night.
No matter what defensive alignment the Cavaliers tried — and they tried a few — Harrington found the soft spots, breaking loose for five goals and one assist to lead the top-ranked Crusaders to an 8-0 blowout at Jesuit High School.
Pia Goodell, Taylor Krueger, and Courtney Pedersen added one goal each for the two-time defending Class 6A state champions, who thoroughly dominated the Cavaliers in a rematch of last year's state finalists.
The Cavaliers, playing their first game under new head coach Michelle McHone, surrendered the first goal to Goodell in the fourth minute and then turned back everything the Crusaders threw at them over the next 30 minutes.
The turning point in the match came with just under seven minutes to play in the first half when Harrington scored two goals less than 90 seconds apart in the 34th and 35th minutes to make it 3-0.
The Crusaders then piled on with five second-half goals as they ran their winning streak to 40 games over three seasons.
"The score line was a bit flattering, because at times in the first half we looked a little disjointed in our play," Crusaders coach Steve Fennah said. "There just didn't seem to be a great deal of intensity.
"We scored early and it was fine to there, but it was almost as if we relaxed at that point and then we found our way. We had a lot better shape in the second half and the goals came, so that was deserved to the kids for making changes."
Clackamas came out in a defensive-oriented, 4-3-2-1 formation with Cecilia Coca-Aitken, Avery Elmore, Remie Le, and Paizlee Whalen anchoring the backline in front goalkeeper Tabitha Parsons.
The Cavaliers had some success clogging up the middle of the field and forcing Jesuit's attackers to go wide, but they struggled to create any kind of a counterattack and the defensive eventually buckled under the Crusaders' relentless pressure.
"I knew that we needed to take a more defensive stance, but with that, you always run the risk of not having a strong attacking line," McHone said. "I noticed that we weren't having a lot of attacking opportunities, so we switched it up, but that didn't do us any favors.
"I was hoping that I could affect the game a little bit more with a more defensive strategy, but Jesuit is a really great team and sometimes that's how it works."
The Cavaliers played without injured forward Aidan Brown, but it's hard to say if one player, even one with Brown's offensive skills, would have made much of a difference in this game.
The bottom line was that Crusaders had too much skill, too much speed, and too much Harrington, the University of Washington-bound striker who did the same thing against Clackamas in last year's championship final when she had four goals and two assists in another 8-0 Jesuit romp.
"That's typical," Fennah said of Harrington's five-goal outburst. "If you give her the right type of service, which is early service and sometimes even behind or even to her feet with control, she's very dangerous. It's as simple as that.
"Clackamas worked hard. They were strong. Early on, I was a little critical about our performance in the first half, but I don't want to take away from what Clackamas did. I thought they were really organized. They covered well for each other and maybe they just ran out of gas a little bit after awhile."
Jesuit had a 14-0 advantage in corner kicks, yet scored only one set piece when Pedersen, the Crusaders' senior defender, connected with a header off Samantha Heinsen's corner kick in the 78th minute to make it 8-0.
One silver lining for Clackamas was the play of Parsons, the junior goalkeeper, whose aggressive play inside the 16-yard box actually kept the score from being worse than it could have been.
This also is a Clackamas team that graduated 12 seniors from last year's Mt. Hood Conference championship team. And even though the Cavs had 13 seniors on the roster this season, they're starting over in many respects with a number of players who are new to playing at the varsity level, not to mention a new head coach, who could not have asked for a more difficult matchup for her varsity coaching debut.
"I was hoping for a little bit better result, but it's okay," said McHone, the former Clackamas JV coach who was promoted when Manuel Martinez resigned. "We were up for that challenge. And playing teams like this makes you better.
"I felt like the girls stayed really positive. They didn't stop. And outside of some fatigue, I thought they stayed strong."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.