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Gut-wrenching defeat

HILLSBORO — St. Mary's head soccer coach Paul Coughlin had the names in front of him — they were thought out, in order and jotted down.

Mike Davis also had some names flashing through his mind, just in case.

Fortunately for Davis — legendary head coach at Catlin Gabel — there would be no need to compile a lineup for penalty kicks at Liberty High on Saturday.

After 93 physical and emotional minutes, the gritty Eagles (16-0-2) scored against the game Crusaders to clinch a 1-0 overtime victory in the Class 3A/2A/1A state championship contest and hand Davis a fabulous finish to a remarkable coaching career.

After a corner kick, senior forward Joseph Oberholtzer knocked in a shot during a scrum near the goal for top-ranked Catlin Gabel in the 94th minute. A shootout session would have been about seven minutes away had neither team scored — or St. Mary's tallied an equalizer over the final stretch — but it wasn't to be for the Crusaders.

Having already watched his starting goalkeeper leave the pitch with an injury, Coughlin was prepared for just about anything.

"I thought it was heading into penalty kicks, but I guess not," he said. "That's the way it goes."

Despite being outshot 11-4, 10th-ranked St. Mary's (12-3-2) managed its on-field business well enough to keep the scoreboard blank during regulation. But after a sound first-half effort between the pipes, St. Mary's goalie Derek Reynolds was kicked in the chin when he dove to stop Brian Farci's open-field shot attempt in the 55th minute.

That's when Pancho Acuna-Miranda came to the rescue.

The versatile Crusader forward substituted in for Reynolds, making three saves — including a daring outside-the-box stop and reaching block — before giving up the deciding goal.

Riley Parsons replaced Acuna-Miranda in the final three minutes of action, but St. Mary's couldn't manufacture an equalizer.

There was a mix of sadness and satisfaction in the Crusader camp afterward.

"I have been on the team for four years," said senior defender Noah Conway, noting the program's semifinal appearance last year and quarterfinal losses in 2007 and '08. "To make it to the championship game is great. I am disappointed we lost, but they played a great game, we played a great game, and they ended up winning fair and square."

The victory had extra meaning to Davis, who decided to retire from coaching after this season. The veteran leader coached at Catlin Gabel for 24 years, winning 10 state titles. He also guided the University of Portland men for six seasons.

"To go out on a high note was a fitting result," said Davis, a native of England who has coached for 45 years overall.

St. Mary's successful ride this season included a 10-match winning streak and playoff victories over Riverdale and Dayton, ranked second and third, respectively, in the 3A/2A/1A power rankings.

"I am tremendously proud of these boys," Coughlin said. "This was a game where you can walk away with your head held up high."

And Coughlin has another list at the ready — a long one with all his potential returners for next year. The squad loses just two starting seniors.

"We were supposed to never make it this far but we pulled it together," Conway said. "I think this team is going to be really good next year."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail djones@mailtribune.com

St.Mary's forward Juan Becerra-Felix, right, heads the ball away from a Catlin Gabel defender on Saturday. - Matthew Aimonetti