Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
HILLSBORO — After 1,365 miles in buses and 221/2 hours of driving, St. Mary's road came to an end.
The Oregon Episcopal boys soccer team unleashed a hailstorm of shots to down the Crusaders, 2-1, in the Class 3A/2A/1A state final at Liberty High on Saturday.
It was the third road game in the Portland area in eight days for the eighth-seeded St. Mary's, which upset top-ranked Riverdale in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Portland Adventist Academy in the semifinals to reach the grandest of stages.
Once there, the Crusaders (11-3-2) were blitzed by the No. 3 Aardvarks (18-1). OES, which owned a 1-0 lead at halftime, outshot St. Mary's 18-6 (including an 11-3 edge on shots on goal). The Portland school also earned an 8-1 corner kick advantage in a match that saw it dominate possession.
All the travel added up, St. Mary's head coach Paul Coughlin said.
"That plays a role," Coughlin said, "but this is what we contend with, unfortunately, as a strong southern Oregon program. I don't know if it will ever change. It is more of an uphill battle for us than other teams."
St. Mary's senior defender William Lee capitalized on a direct kick from 22 yards out in the 78th minute. He was his team's player of the game.
Oregon Episcopal's Matthew Sipowicz (his squad's player of the match) knocked in the unassisted go-ahead goal in the 34th minute and teammate Jonathan Dugoni scored on a Cal Seneker assist in the 66th minute.
Sipowicz crossed his shot into the lower right corner of the net and Dugoni went near post from 13 yards out.
Facing much of the Aardvarks' offensive wrath was senior goalkeeper Christian Aviles, who recorded nine saves in a complete-match effort.
He was on his toes all day — quite frequently, he was also on the ground after diving to make a stop.
Aviles had never played soccer until this season. The former football player volunteered to take on the role between the pipes and quickly proved to be sound at the spot.
Even as the match stood scoreless, Aviles was busy at work.