Jesuit boys win the battle with Tigard
TIGARD — The defenses were stout.
The intensity was high — very high.
As for prime scoring opportunities, they were few and far between.
But the Jesuit High School boys soccer team took advantage of one of those opportunities — and the Crusaders got a hard-fought win to show for it.
Jesuit, with sophomore Aidan Azavedo scoring on a header shot off a pinpoint assist by senior Oscar Baudey near the 15-minute mark of the second half, and then holding off a late furious rally attempt by Tigard, got a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Tigers in a Class 6A state playoff second-round match played Tuesday at Tigard High School.
"This is pretty big," Baudey said after the match. "It's a testament to the hard work we put in. We started off rough at the beginning of the season, but we worked hard. We've got talent, but that's not what's important — it's the hard work."
"It's super important for our confidence going forward," Azavedo said. "I think we played super well. It was probably the best game we've played overall."
With the win, Jesuit, the No. 2 team out of the Metro League and the No. 12 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 10-3-3 on the season. The Crusaders also advance to the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they'll play on the road against Grant on Saturday.
"We're looking forward to it," Azavedo said.
Tigard, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 5 team in the power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 12-2-2.
"We did well," Tigard sophomore defender Jack Hallam said. "We came out at the beginning, and we were playing solid, and we ended up winning league. That was a big step for us. Just the chemistry within our team, we got really connected. Before the season even started we all became friends, and it just showed up on the field."
"It was so much fun," Tigard junior midfielder Trevor Smith said. "We started off super strong. We really played well in league. We're super proud of winning the league title. That was our goal coming into the season. It was unfortunate to get knocked out in the second round, but we put it all out there. We didn't hold anything back."
The defenses seemed to dominate play in the first half of Tuesday's contest. The Tigard defense of Hallam, senior Luis Salas, junior Carson Mandera and senior Sajjad Al-Rikabi, among others, and the Jesuit defense of senior Jack Chestnutt, junior Will Miller, junior Nathan Gewant and senior Ben Landauer, among others, each allowed just one shot on goal in the first 40 minutes.
But the offenses picked up the intensity in the second half. Tigard senior Oscar Jacinto had a shot from 25 yards away on the right side hit away on a leap by Jesuit senior goalkeeper Nolan Aylward with 27 minutes and 27 seconds left in the match. Less than a minute later, Baudey had hit shot from 27 yards out saved by Tigard junior goalkeeper Jackson Cleaver.
But, the Crusaders would soon be able to break through. Baudley, driving the ball down the left side, crossed the ball right in front of the Tigard goal to Azavedo, who, from 10 yards away, headed the ball into the right side of the Tiger goal, giving Jesuit a 1-0 lead with 24:27 remaining in the match.
"I took that ball and said 'this is it, do or die,'" Baudley said of the play. "I caught that ball and as soon as I hit it, it felt good. I saw Aiden coming in. He yelled and I got it there. It was a good feeling."
"It was a great cross, Azavedo said. "Oscar kept getting up and down the line, and getting that cross in was great, and getting that goal in felt amazing. Feeling that crowd on my back was great. I loved it."
The Crusaders nearly made it 2-0 soon after, as a shot by junior Remington Grayson from 12 yards out hit the right post of the Tigard goal.
The Tigers turned up the pressure after that. A shot by Mandera from 35 yards away was saved by a leaping Aylward with 16:58 left to play. Aylward then grabbed the ball on an open short-range header shot by Al-Rikabi, coming on a scramble following a corner kick with 12:13 remaining. The Tigers then got shots on goal from senior Aaron Padarath and junior Jacob Theodoroff in the final 10 minutes.
Tigard's final threat came on a free kick into the box by Hallam with just 27 seconds remaining, but Tigard was whistled for a foul on the play, leaving Jesuit with the 1-0 victory.
"It was intense, and we had to keep our cool," Baudey said. "We really focused on that coming into this game, keeping cool and staying focused on what we needed to do, and that was to play soccer. It was intense, and that's how I like it."
"There were moments where it got pretty hectic, but we just had to keep our cool, and keep battling," Azavedo said. "It was one of the most intense games I've played so far this season."
Jesuit, for the match, had five shots on goal and five corner kicks. Tigard also had five shots on goal and five corner kicks.
"It didn't go as we planned," Hallam said. "We came out, and they came out, too, and they came out a little stronger. We definitely gave them a fight. When they went up 1-0 we stepped it up, and you could tell that we really wanted it."
"We fought," Smith said. "We fought to the end. It was a fun match, but unfortunately we lost."
Jesuit, if it wins its quarterfinal match with Grant on Saturday, will face either Forest Grove or Aloha in a state playoff semifinal match on Tuesday.