PORTLAND – It didn't take Summit's boys soccer team long to make a resounding statement for the 2021 season.
The Storm, No. 5 in the OSAAtoday 6A preseason coaches poll, went on the road Thursday afternoon and posted an impressive 4-2 win over No. 1 Jesuit in the nonleague season opener for both teams.
Senior Nathaniel Deperro scored twice and seniors Paul Fecteau and Alex Grignon added single goals for Summit, which held on after building a 4-0 lead early in the second half.
“It's a huge booster. It gives us a lot of confidence,” Deperro said. “Jesuit is supposed to be the best team in our state right now, and we beat them pretty comfortably. But we can't let it get to our heads. We've got to just keep putting in the work, and it'll pay off.”
First-year Summit coach Joe LoCascio, a 2006 Southridge graduate, knows what it means to win at Jesuit.
“I walked off the field and went, 'I don't think I ever won here,'” LoCascio said. “It felt pretty good. … Couldn't ask for a better start.”
Deperro got the scoring started by converting a diving header midway through the first half. Fecteau made it 2-0 about 10 minutes later, and Grignon scored off an assist from Deperro just before half for a 3-0 lead. Deperro added his second goal about 10 minutes into the second half to make it 4-0.
“I expected us to go out there and win, but maybe not that quickly,” Deperro said. “We took advantage of every opportunity we had. We finished clinically, and that was our reward. We played with as much effort and passion as we could.”
LoCascio said Deperro is “fun to watch.”
“He gets the ball facing the goal, he's dangerous,” LoCascio said. “He was able to find that positioning, and he did very well with it.”
The Storm faced some adversity in that they traveled four hours before pulling up to Jesuit with just 45 minutes to spare, cutting their preparation time in half.
“We're the travel team. Every big match for us is largely going to be on the road,” LoCascio said. “You could feel the anxiety on the bus of not getting the time we wanted. To see the boys be able to turn it on like that, that's a big testament to their focus and their abilities.”
Summit, the 6A runner-up in 2018 and 2019, has high hopes for the season. The Storm, which went 9-1 during the spring season, has nine senior starters.
“Our 2019 squad individually might have had more talent, but this team as a whole, the chemistry between each one of us – I know every one of them like the back of my hand,” Deperro said. “As a team we're much, much better, maybe not individually, but that doesn't matter. It's a team sport.”
Summit has had Jesuit's number since losing to the Crusaders 2-1 on penalty kicks in the 2018 state final. In 2019, the Storm won at Jesuit 2-1 in the state quarterfinals.
Down 4-0, Jesuit got goals from senior Finn Deem-Ranzetta and junior Drew Pedersen.
“I was proud of our guys' effort and play in the second half,” Jesuit coach Geoff Skipper said. “They are resilient guys. They will learn from this and bounce back.
“We had a slow start, but have to credit Summit for coming out strong and forcing us into a slow start. They were organized on their press and we struggled to adjust. Summit is the real deal and a definite contender for the state title.”
Deperro said Summit is hungry this season. The Storm's last state championship came in 5A in 2013.
“We've lost in the state finals twice now, and we want it so badly,” he said. “Everyone says, 'Oh, Summit can't win, and it's all luck they got to the finals.' But this year we're going to get to the finals and we're going to win, and we're going to prove everyone wrong.”
Said LoCascio: “For these boys to knock a couple times, and still have an opportunity their senior year, it's definitely important to them. You can tell that they're taking it serious.”
The Storm is adjusting to the approach of LoCascio. He replaced Ron Kidder, who went 160-53-30 in 15 seasons.
"Joe thinks of it as a mental game, which I'm slowly starting to understand," Deperro said. "I really, really enjoy being coached by him. I think he's making an enormous difference in our team this year.”