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Ramirez's goal lifts St. Mary's in playoffs

The St. Mary's boys amped up their performance in the second-round of the Class 3A/2A/1A state playoffs Tuesday.

The Crusaders put constant pressure on visiting Riverdale from Portland and came away with a 2-1 victory at St. Mary's field.

Undefeated St. Mary's (12-0-1) advances to a quarterfinal-round game against Santiam Christian, a 2-0 winner over Grant Union, in Salem on Saturday.

"We came out with a lot of spirit," said St. Mary's coach Paul Coughlin. "We moved the ball around, protected the ball, made smart passes and had them on their heels. We had the soccer rhythm."

In the first three minutes of the match, the Crusaders had two dangerous scoring opportunities hit off the posts.

About midway through the opening half, sophomore midfielder Lou Arne made a diagonal run into the penalty area where he was fouled and the Crusaders were awarded a penalty kick. Nick DeYarman converted the kick into the upper right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Despite being dominated in the early going, the Mavericks tied the game 1-1 in the 28th minute when St. Mary's goal keeper Michael Brimble was beat on a low shot in the right corner of the net.

The half ended with the scored tied.

Junior Juan Ramirez provided the game-winning goal in the 65th minute on a close-in header off a corner kick by Mark Raniele.

Coughlin credited Ramirez and Raniele with turning in their best efforts of the season.

Other top performances were provided by sophomore forward A.J. Leep and junior midfielder Bay Gross.

"(Leep) was fighting for every ball he could get near," said Coughlin. "(Gross) was intense and physical. He worked hard to maintain possession and did a good job distributing the ball."

Senior sweeper Andrew Larson excelled on the defensive end for St. Mary's.

The Crusaders finished with an 18-6 advantage in shots.

"We came out as good as we've come out all year," said Coughlin. "The final score did not represent how well we played."