HILLSBORO -- It didn't come with the same dominance as in recent years, but Jesuit regained its supremacy in 6A girls soccer Saturday.
The top-seeded Crusaders made a goal from freshman Mariane Dunne in the 10th minute stand up for a 1-0 win over No. 2 West Linn in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A final Saturday night at Hillsboro Stadium.
The Crusaders earned their 15th title in a much different type of final than their last three championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019, when they won 4-0, 8-0 and 3-0, respectively.
“Every year is special, every year is different,” said Jesuit coach Steve Fennah, who won his 10th championship with the program. “They didn’t play as well as they could tonight, but they showed a heck of a lot of grit and determination.”
Unbeaten Jesuit (19-0) outscored its opponents 67-4 this season but had to pull out three one-goal wins in the playoffs.
“It feels good to earn it,” Jesuit junior Abby Cox said. “It was earned, not given, so I’m super grateful for this opportunity. We all worked hard.”
The title comes after a 2021 season in which the Crusaders not only had their 76-match unbeaten streak snapped, but they exited the playoffs with a second-round loss to Forest Grove.
“It was disappointing,” Cox said. “I hate to lose. I think all of us hate to lose. But we bounced back and we responded in a great way.
“This is my first time doing it. I’ve looked up to this since I was a kid, so it feels good. I know we’re all super proud of ourselves.”
The game’s only goal came when Dunne hit a seemingly harmless shot from about 15 yards out from the left angle, and the ball bounced under West Linn senior goalkeeper Kyra Jeffrey, who attempted to smother it, and trickled inside the left post.
“I didn’t expect it to get that far because the defense was so good, but it just got there,” Dunne said of her shot. “It had that weird bounce before, and I thought the keeper had caught it, but I think it went right under her. I was in complete shock.”
From there, the teams’ chances were relatively even, with each hitting the crossbar twice. The Crusaders hunted a second goal but struggled to finish, as did the Lions.
“On any other night, there would have be a few more of those opportunities that would come in,” Fennah said. “But West Linn are a very, very difficult team to play against.
“They’re a good team, they’ve got good athletes, they’re well-coached, and they made it really hard. They outnumbered us in the midfield at times, and we just had to buckle down and grit our way through it a little bit.”
West Linn’s shots off the crossbar came from junior Ava Johnson in the 34th minute and senior Kelan Betts in the 60th minute.
The Lions (14-1-3) had another good opportunity in the 64th minute when sophomore Cassidy Harding worked free from about 15 yards in front of the goal, but her shot toward the upper left corner was saved by Jesuit sophomore goalkeeper Zoe Anderson.
Betts said she had the sense that eventually the Lions would get the equalizer against the highly touted Crusaders, who are No. 3 in the U.S. Soccer Coaches national rankings.
“For sure,” Betts said. “We were just unlucky. I feel like if we would’ve had 10 more minutes, we definitely would have scored. We didn’t.
“The first 10 minutes, nerves got the best of us. But we definitely have a skill set. We were right there with them.”
The final seconds came with a sigh of relief from the Crusaders.
“We were just really lucky,” Dunne said. “I’m just so happy that we won.”
The loss ended an outstanding season for West Linn, which won the tough Three Rivers League and made the final for the first time.
“It’s a great senior season,” Betts said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team. As captains we wanted to make the team chemistry really strong, and that we did. We just built off that this season.”