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The Crusaders come away with a 1-0 victory over the Bowmen in the non-league contest

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Jesuit High School senior Floor Van Hameren (left) and Sherwood junior Noah Bussanich battle for the ball in Thursday's match. The Crusaders got a 1-0 victory.SHERWOOD — It was a battle.

It was physical. It was low-scoring.

And both teams say they're going to benefit from it.

The Jesuit High School boys soccer team, getting a first-half goal and then fighting off a late Sherwood rally attempt, got a 1-0 win over the Bowmen in a hard-fought non-league match played Sept. 19 at Sherwood High School.

"It was great," Jesuit senior defender Floor Van Hameren said after the contest. "It was a close game all the way to the end, but I think we were stronger in the end, physically."

"This will definitely make us better," Sherwood junior goalkeeper Kyle Stuckey said. "I think every match makes us better, but this one, against the defending state champs, they're great, will really help us."

With the win, Jesuit, from the Metro League, improved to 4-0-2 on the season.

"This one should help us prepare to go against the top teams. This tested us physically, that was good." Van Hameren said. "We've been working on moving the ball around, finding the outside wingers and crossing it in. In high school, you can't just dribble past everyone, you have to get crosses and shots in."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Jesuit High School senior goalkeeper Nolan Gregg grabs the ball in a crowd during the Crusaders' 1-0 win at Sherwood.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Sherwood High School junior goalkeeper Kyle Stuckey (right) leaps to make a save in front of Jesuit senior Remington Grayson during last week's non-league match.Sherwood, from the Pacific Conference, moved to 1-4 on the season with the setback.

"This shows that we can play with the big guys, and this builds confidence going into the next games," Sherwood senior defender Michael Dinsdale said. "We've got a tough schedule."

"We started a little slow, but, toward the end, we started picking it up," Stuckey said. "We were doing really well toward the end of the game. We kept it in their end."

The Bowmen defense, featuring junior Baylor Hampton, junior Ethan Cluff, senior Nathan Merrill and Dinsdale, among others, was up to the task early in the contest.

Cluff leaped to head a way a Jesuit cross in front of the Sherwood goal with 32 minutes and 18 seconds left to play in the first half. Then Stuckey made a diving block of a shot by Jesuit senior Austin Rodriguez, coming with 29:40 remaining in the half.

But, soon after, the Crusaders were able to break through. Jesuit senior Remington Grayson, after taking a cross from junior Riley Acker from the right side, smacked a header shot from five yards out into the Bowmen goal, giving Jesuit a 1-0 lead with 27:19 left in the first half.

"Remy (Grayson) was up there finishing, as always," Van Hameren said. "He's been dominating this season. It's crazy."

Jesuit got another shot on goal, coming in a turnaround attempt by Acker, coming with 18:01 left in the half, but Stuckey was able to make another key block for the Bowmen.

"It's all reaction, I guess," said Stuckey, who had nine saves in the match. "The ball comes in, my hands move and I get saves. That's what I do."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Sherwood High School senior Sam Windheim (5) and Jesuit junior Riley Acker race to the ball during the teams' non-league match.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Jesuit High School senior Remington Grayson heads the ball past Sherwood junior Baylor Hampton during the teams' non-league match.Sherwood's best chance of the first half came on a line-drive shot from 35 yards away by Hampton, with the ball bending wide left of the Jesuit goal with 5:00 left before halftime.

The Bowmen stayed strong on defense in the opening minutes of the second half, with senior Peter Dinsdale and Hampton each heading away corner kicks by the Crusaders.

But Jesuit kept the pressure on, getting shots from sophomore Landon Azavedo, Acker and junior Aidan Azavedo in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Then, with 16:43 left to play in the contest, Aidan Azavedo had an open attempt from 14 yards away blocked by a sliding Stuckey, helping keep the Crusader lead at 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes of the match.

With 6:54 remaining, Sherwood senior Sam Windheim had a hard shot from 26 yards out sail just wide left of the Jesuit goal.

Then, with 4:40 remaining, Michael Dinsdale, out of nowhere, blasted a line-drive shot from 20 yards out, but Jesuit senior goalkeeper Nolan Gregg, moving quickly, was able to deflect the ball.

"That last one popped out of nowhere," Van Hameren said.

"That would have been crazy," Dinsdale said. "I was ready to explode to the corner and celebrate."

From there, Jesuit would go on to wrap up the 1-0 victory.

The Jesuit defense, featuring junior Cole Huseby, Van Hameren, senior Nathan Gewant and junior Bennett Nasser, among others, allowed Sherwood just the one shot on goal.

"The last four games, we've got shutouts, every single one, so we're happy with that," Van Hameren said.

The Bowmen were also happy with their defensive effort.

"We've been working on our form, and we've improved since our last game," Michael Dinsdale said. "We've been conceding three goals a game, so to hold Jesuit to one goal is a big deal."

"They were working really hard," Stuckey said of the Sherwood defense. "They were playing well, they were covering, they were pressuring. They were playing the best they probably have all season."

Jesuit had 10 shots on goal and nine corner kicks in the match. Sherwood didn't have any corner kicks.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Sherwood High School junior Brayden McDonald (12) gets ready to boot the ball during the Bowmen's non-league match with Jesuit.The Crusaders will be back in action on Monday, when they play at Lincoln in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Jesuit will host Grant in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m.

The Bowmen will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host Franklin in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Sherwood will travel to Cleveland for a 7 p.m. non-league contest.

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